Breath Prayer and 4 Steps to Discovering Your Own

We are told in scripture to pray without ceasing. That always sounds pretty daunting, doesn't it? What would it even look like to pray without stopping? Brother Lawrence called it "practicing the presence of God". This is the realization God is over all, through all, and in all; we ought to be able to experience that presence all the time. 

There is an ancient Eastern Christianity practice called a breath prayer, which helped move one toward a ceaseless prayer. The breath prayer is a short, simple prayer you can speak in one breath. Gregory of Sinai said, "One's love of God should go before breathing." The idea is to address God with the inhale, as though you were breathing God in. Then the petition you make is said on the exhale. 

The idea is to be praying this prayer continuously throughout the day and week until, as a Russian peasant said, "the prayer moves from your mind to your heart, throughout your body, and eventually becoming so internalized it is present with you at all times."  These prayers are meant to be brief, have a sense of nearness, address God directly and personally, and express a dependence or trust. I want to give you 4 steps toward discovering your own breath prayer for today or for this week. So find a spot of uninterrupted space and time to walk through these steps.

Allow God to call you by name and ask you this question: "What do you want?"
Hear God ask you, "PC, What do you want?"
"Jill, what do you want?"
"Michael, what do you need?"

This may be one word: "peace" "Strength" "wisdom" "faith" "guidance" "closeness"
This may be a short phrase: "to understand your truth" "to hear your voice" "to feel your love"

At this step, connect your phrase with the most comfortable way you address God. Is it more comfortable for you to address God as "Father", "Abba", "Papa God". Is it easier to address the person of Jesus as "Immanuel" "Savior" "Son of God"? Connect this address with your phrase from Step 2.

As you begin to pray this prayer throughout your day and week, write it down. Then allow God to refine the request. You may find as you pray this phrase out of your need, God will refine the request by a word or two.

Either way, remember to keep it simple so you can pray it frequently, and address God with the inhale and your petition in the exhale.