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Breath Prayer

Today’s Reflection

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.

Today’s Question

Practice a breath prayer of your own. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

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.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember:
(June 18).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2013, a ministry of GBOD | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • robert moeller June 22, 2013, 2:10 am

    Lord, help us not to argue about the Bible but to understand its meaning. Thank you for Your love, patience, and kindness. We need You every day. Thank You for helping me help others who feel overwhelmed. Slowly, steadily, constantly progress is being made.
    Thank You for the wisdom we have from You to follow Your path and make good decisions. In Your name I pray, Lord. Amen.

  • Betsy June 22, 2013, 7:19 am

    Lord, I strive to practice the breath prayer this week. Thank you for allowing us this time away from home to relax and rejuvinate. My gratitude overflows for all the blessings we enjoy; our health, wealth of friends, family and love. Keep me mindful during this week away from schedules and home to praise you in all that I do. Also, I pray for discernment as we welcome Lynn to stay with us this week. Continue her slow healing after her loss. All honor and glory is yours.

  • Ruth Dixon June 22, 2013, 7:33 am

    Over the years I have attempted the use of breath prayers with little success. This spring when I was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed to be the appropriate time to try again. In several settings, Joshua 1 had come to my attention. It seemed to me that entering the world of cancer treatment was a new journey for me. As a pastor of congregational care, it would be a helpful learning experience as I walk with others on similar journeys. Joshua 1:9 which encourages Joshua to be brave and strong, to not be alarmed or terrified because “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Became my encouragement and the source of my breath prayer: “The Lord is with me wherever I go.” My care pages site is “whereamigoing”. I am thankful that surgery seems to have been the solution to ridding my body of cancer, but I know that it will be years before I am pronounced “cured”. I am thankful to be able to remind myself as I walk this road that “The Lord is with me wherever I go.”

  • Fred Rick Burg June 22, 2013, 7:37 am

    A breath prayer:
    Inhale: Hurt, anger, pain, tears
    Exhale: Holy Spirit, free me, forgive me. Renew in me.

  • Dana June 22, 2013, 9:12 am

    I breathe in . I breathe out .

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling June 22, 2013, 10:01 am

    This week, my breath prayer: thank you, Jesus.

    Every breath i took was difficult because of the haze plus my sore throat, cough, flu, headache, fever, etc.

    I just whispered: ‘Thank you, Jesus!” (For sustaining me)

  • Joan June 22, 2013, 9:40 pm

    Loving God, I am yours
    I read this from Beth Richardson and it has become a favorite of mine. Very meaningful and centering

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling June 23, 2013, 2:05 am

    Another breath prayer: heal me, God!

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