Breathing is not only the most natural thing to do, it sustains life. Breath prayer for many is a prime sustainer of life.
In breath prayer we repeat a short, repetitive prayer phrase to the rhythm of our breathing. As we breathe in we repeat the first words or phrase of the prayer; then as we breathe out we repeat the second phrase of the prayer. Typical phrases used in breath prayer are –
Breath of life; breath on me
O Lord; baptize me with love
Father; teach me gentleness
Lord Jesus Christ; have mercy on me
In the examples above the first phrase is a name or image of God and serves to remind us that we are in God’s presence and is said as we breathe in. The second phrase expresses a God-given desire and is said as we exhale, releasing not only our breath but the words of the prayer to God. As we repeatably breathe, so we repeat the prayer again and again.
Why not give yourself five minutes sometime today to try the breath prayer. First, select one of the phrases above or a similar phrase. Next, sit comfortably and begin to notice your breathing. Then, as you are ready, start repeating the prayer to the rhythm of your breathing. Maybe you will want to come back to the pattern at different times during the day.
You can find more on the breath prayer in the following –
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun) pp 204-206
Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (by Richard Foster) pp 122-124
Soul Feast (by Marjorie J Thompson) pp 48-49
Companions in Christ (by Gerritt Scott Dawson, et al) pp 296-297
Exploring the Way (by Marjoirie J Thompson) p 46.