Monday, February 17, 2014

Breathing prayers

Do you know what a breath prayer is? This short phrase or sentence is repeated while breathing in and out. The most famous is the "Jesus Prayer," prayed over centuries.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

I've prayed that short prayer to the rhythm of walking, of crying, and of desperate silences when other prayers drifted like fog on the air. I've prayed it in confession, adoration, and utter joyful abandon to God.

Different seasons bring different breath prayers. We petition God. Worship Him. Give thanks. Lay our burdens down.

Under our conscious thoughts, breath prayers acknowledge our dependence on a Good God and our trust that He is in control.

How do you find a short prayer that prays your heart now, to steady you when life feels abundant, overwhelming, or unbalanced? Ruth Haley Barton's book Sacred Rhythms suggests the following:
  1. Listen to what God is saying to you through scripture, prayer, the Church, circumstances, and people.
  2. Listen to your heart's deep desires - what do you want God to do in you? For you?
  3. What name of God speaks to you at this time?
  4. Combine the name of God with the longing of your heart - into a 6-8 word prayer.
Then pray often, not thoughtlessly or carelessly. Breath in and out, telling God how wonderful He is (His name) and what you need from Him. The prayer becomes part of waking and sleeping, a meditation on God's provisions and greatness.

What is your breath prayer? My current prayer is:
   Lord, set me free to love you.

Read more:
*All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6 ESV

*Your sins have deprived you of good. Jeremiah 5:25 ESV

*As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Mark 6:34 ESV

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NIV

*See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God. Hebrews 12:15 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Lord, we often go about our daily lives forgetting to seek your guidance. Turn us back to you and forgive our waywardness. Help us to live in peace with all people and to share your message of grace.

Blessed Jesus, you came to earth for us and you took upon yourself all our sins. Thank you for that great sacrifice. Daily we need your care, your leading, and your protection. Thank you for watching over us and loving us. Amen.

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