WE KNOW SO MUCH about staying busy and being entertained in this world of ours—the infinite scheduling, the constant demands, the steady images and ads and tweets being tossed in our direction. We sometimes even treat our time with God as if it’s something to check off our [to-do] lists.
According to a George Barna study in 2011, about 39% of the participating self-identified Christians performed three “normal” religious activites such as attending church, Bible study, and praying the week of the study. When it came to more contemplative practices of silence, solitude, and meditation, however, these were practiced quite infrequently.
Tuning ourselves to our breath requires intention, release of busyness, and pushing through discomfort sometimes. The beauty of the breath prayer is the acceptance of that very tension. When praying it, we don’t seek to be perfect or pretend that we aren’t busy and constantly pulled away from Christ in this world. This prayer is the very place to confess this reality and ask for a change. Part of what makes this simple prayer method so powerful is its honesty.
In the parable of the Phraisee and the tax collector, we see in the tax collector’s simple breath prayer, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:10-13, NIV), a simple statement recognizing how great God is and how much we need God’s greatness. …
Whatever phrase we choose must simply be authentic to our relationship with God in that very moment we are breathing. This may be in the form of a request like, “Have mercy on me, a sinner”; an offering like, “I give my life to you”; or a statement of thanksgiving like, “You are worthy of praise.”
The full expression of the breath prayer may look like this:
[Inhale] “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” [Exhale] “have mercy on me, a sinner.”
– The Upper Room, May June 2013
From “Prayer Workshop: Breathe In and Breathe Out Prayer” by Ciona Rouse in The Upper Room daily devotional guide, May/June 2013. Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
Practice a breath prayer of your own. Share your thoughts.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.
Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
Luke 8:32-33, NRSV
This Week: pray for those who feel overwhelmed by life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.
Did You Know?
Need a Spiritual Retreat? Join us at SOULfeast, the Upper Room’s spiritual retreat at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, July 14-18, 2013. Come discover how, as the Holy Spirit washes over us, this powerful presence brings us alive to God, community, transformation, and missions in the here and now. For more information, visit soulfeast.upperroom.org.
This week we remember:
Ephrem (June 18).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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