February Presence ~ Breath Prayers

IMG_4164If you’ve ever made any effort to be more present or mindful, you’ve probably practiced deep breathing exercises. I’ve recently learned to take this idea a step further with something called breath prayer, the ancient practice of meditating on a short verse or phrase while slowly inhaling and exhaling.

I noticed the term breath prayer for the first time while re-reading Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life. A little more research revealed breath prayer is a common practice, and there are many books devoted entirely to the subject. Apparently, I’ve been missing out on something pretty simple and incredibly powerful!

The beauty of the breath prayer is that it can be done any place, any time. You don’t have to be sitting in meditation, in a church pew or have your eyes closed. You can be in the car, in the grocery store, at work, in the middle of a conversation, vacuuming the living room or taking a walk.

We all know that without breath, we die, yet it’s not something we often stop and think about. Research shows breathing deeply can ~

  • calm the sympathetic nervous system
  • lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • relieve pain
  • increase energy
  • improve symptoms of depression
  • improve memory
  • reduce inflammation
  • improve core muscle stability

I turned to several sources to help me better understand breath prayer. According to Jennifer Tucker, author of Breath as Prayer (Calm Your Anxiety, Focus Your Mind, and Renew Your Soul), “Breath prayers combine deep breathing with prayers of meditation on God’s Word to help ease anxiety while turning your mind to Truth.”

Here is the simple process for the personal breath prayer I’ve been practicing ~                               .

  1. As I slowly and deeply inhale, I think on these words: Inhale God’s Love…
  2. As I slowly and deeply exhale, I think of these words: Exhale God’s Love…
  3. I repeat the prayer many times throughout the day. 

Here are a few other recommended scriptures and phrases for breath prayers ~

  • “Not my will…but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)
  • “May your unfailing love..be my comfort.”(Psalm 119:76a)
  • “When I am afraid…I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
  • “My soul finds rest…in God alone.” (Psalm 62:1a)
  • “The Lord is my shepherd…I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
  • “Rejoice always…pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
  • Inhale His peace…exhale my anxiety.
  • Inhale His presence…exhale my fear.
  • More Jesus…less me.

I don’t know what you have going on today or what you might be up against, but I hope this practice brings you the peace and presence it is bringing me. §

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.”
Jonathan Edwards, 1700s theologian

3 thoughts on “February Presence ~ Breath Prayers

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