We want to grow in our awareness of God’s presence. But the days are full and we often get distracted. Can we do something to remain more connected? Yes, we can.
Welcome to day 11 of our May-long prayer challenge. Today we will practice a way of praying that permeates our day. Throughout the minutes and hours, we will match our prayer with our breath.
I think it was James Houston who shared this practice with our class at Regent College years ago, and I’ve practiced it off and on through the years. Breath prayer is a wonderful way of “abiding” in Christ, as Jesus invited us to to do in John 15.
The best way to engage breathing prayer is to take a short verse or phrase from Scripture, and say it (either mentally or quietly) as you inhale and exhale. (The phrase should be not too long or short, but the right length to match your breathing.)
I’m going to suggest one Scripture, for simplicity’s sake: Psalm 27:1.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear? (as you are inhaling)
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? (when you exhale)
In order to integrate this breathing prayer into your day, you will need to spend some moments practicing it first. Find a comfortable place to sit, and gently breathe in and out, saying this verse along with your breathing. Do it for a few minutes. Let it become part of your breath.
And then, as you move into your day, continue the breathing prayer–as you drive, walk, do dishes, or engage in other activities.
Of course you will forget to pray for stretches of time. You may be concentrated on specific tasks and it will slip away from you. That’s no problem, and certainly nothing to be hard on yourself about. Here’s the beautiful thing: you will not have forgotten to breathe! So when you remember, just pick it up again and keep inhaling and exhaling prayer along with your natural rhythm of breathing. By anchoring our prayer to our breath, we can pick it up again with ease.
For some of you, setting alerts on your phone to remind you during the day to continue the breathing prayer might be helpful; others of you may write out a card or even make a note on your hand. You will keep coming back to it throughout your day.
So that’s it: a simple practice, and yet can you think of a more integrated way to remain conscious of God’s presence and power in your life?
Let me know how this practice worked for you today. What did you enjoy? What did you find difficult? How would you do it differently? Let’s learn from each other. If you want, share in the comments below.
My prayer for you today: Lord Jesus, who is our light and salvation, breathe into us today, as we breathe in and out to you. May we become more aware of your abiding presence with us, and may this practice today heighten our conviction that we need never fear. We love you. Amen.