Out of Breath?


Breath Prayer, also known as the Jesus Prayer, is the prayer practice that first challenged me in HeartPaths. I think this is because of two facts:

  1. I’m a little wary of “mantras.” And essentially, breath prayer is about repeating one phrase often.
  2. Breath prayer requires that you empty the mind and just allow God to fill the space in that emptiness.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a blogger might have trouble emptying her mind! Add to that the “counselor brain” and it’s darned near impossible. But, I now rely upon breath prayer for certain situations, so obviously I navigated my way through these two “mine fields” successfully. Let’s examine the practice:

The Jesus Prayer stems from what blind Bartimaeus said to Jesus in the hopes of Jesus healing him: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Simply by naming Jesus we are inviting Him into our midst and asking Him to take us as we are (warts and all) and to help us in whatever way Jesus/the Holy Spirit feels will yield healing for us.

One simply takes a few deep breaths, invites Jesus to use this prayer time as He will and then repeats the phrase above as needed throughout the entire prayer time. That’s it.

Yes, that’s it!

The idea behind breath prayer is that God will transform us simply by us giving Him time to do so and simply by us breathing out this prayer. Most people breathe in on the first part of the phrase and breathe out on the second part of the phrase. We utter the phrase silently any time we find ourselves by other thoughts, feelings, etc.

Some do not like the term Lord, etc., so it’s fine to find a title or reference to Jesus that works for you. In the beginning of practicing the Jesus Prayer, I would ask Jesus to tell me how to refer to Him and often another reference would pop into my mind during that time.

But, as I practiced it more and more, I found myself wanting to return to the original phrasing I had been taught. I say, “Do what works for you,” on this!

In the beginning I was absolutely lousy at this–not gonna lie! Even my HeartPaths leader says she really struggled with it and she would just laugh and laugh during Breath Prayer because she was having a “ThoughtFest” in her head each time. So, if you find yourself in a similar predicament, just go back to the phrase you chose.

Just like everything else in life, one must practice, practice, practice in order to become better at Breath Prayer and the good news is that Breath Prayer can be practiced at almost any time, anywhere. Daniel Wolpert says, in Creating a Life with God, that he likes to use the Breath Prayer when he can’t sleep. This seems to work for me, too. However, there are times when I still can’t shut off my brain and even when this happens, at least I’m praying to God during this time. This happens to Wolpert, as well.

Since studying breath prayer, I have studied 8 other types of prayer, so I haven’t had practiced Breath prayer lately, but I so want to come back to it this summer when there is a HeartPaths break , because remarkable things happen when I can get my mind to empty!

I hope you give it a try (and actually try it several times!) and see what happens (Again, journal about your experience!). I hope you find yourself “out of breath” by what Jesus does when you “breathe Him in and breathe out you.”

Point to Ponder 1: Find a tranquil place even if you have to go to a park to find it! Set the timer on your phone (or another timer) for 5 minutes. If it helps, light a candle and surround it by other items that calm your mind (Scarves, shells, rocks, flowers and other natural items often help.). Gaze at these items or at your surroundings and breathe deeply in and out until you have let “your day go.” Start your timer and just breathe in and out your version of the Jesus Prayer. Whenever a thought comes to mind or you find yourself off-track, return to your breath prayer.

Point to Ponder 2: Getting something useful out of PTP 1? Awesome! Now, do it for 10 minutes! Keep increasing the time until you are at ease with 20 minutes of the Jesus Prayer.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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