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Monday, 02/27/2023 3:47:54 AM

Monday, February 27, 2023 3:47:54 AM

Post# of 30530
Breath Prayers

What is Breath Prayer?

It was nearly 2 AM when they wheeled my daughter from the emergency room to her inpatient room on the fourth floor of a children’s hospital in Atlanta. Outside the small window, city lights poked holes against the black veil of night and cast shadows on the wall above the bed. A too-big hospital gown fell loosely over her tired body, and wires strung from her chest to the monitors beside her bed, blinking with the rhythm of her heart as I held her hand and she drifted off to sleep. A hard vinyl couch beside the wall would be my bed as a nurse sat with us, checking in every fifteen minutes. My precious girl looked so small and frail in that hospital bed. She was sicker than we’d realized, and this latest crisis had left me overwhelmed and unsteady.

As I lay there in the darkness of that hospital room, my eyes welled with an overflow of pain and helplessness. The familiar signs of anxiety began to flood through my body. My chest grew tight and heavy, and my hands began to tremble as I struggled to catch my breath. I felt small and scared and so very alone. I tried to pray, but my mind was only filled with worry and fear. I lost my words. I had nothing left to say, nothing left to pray.

As I grasped for hope and gasped for breath, I remembered: There are words I can pray when I have no words to pray, when all I have to offer is my trembling breath. A few months earlier, I had read about breath prayers for the first time and was captivated. I wrote a few down and tucked them in my heart. And now, months later, the words of one of those prayers suddenly came to my mind. It was just a handful of words from Psalm 23, broken into two small lines. I took a deep breath, and as I inhaled, I tried to focus my mind on the words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and as I exhaled, I whispered, “I have all that I need.” And again, breathing in deeply, I focused my thoughts on “The Lord is my shepherd,” and then breathed out “I have all that I need.” As I focused on my breathing and the words of Scripture, my body calmed and my soul was reminded of a truth that will never change, no matter my circumstances: “The Lord is my shepherd” — even here in this hospital, next to my daughter hooked up to monitors. And “I have all that I need” — because even here, in the dark, I have Him. The good shepherd. The one who tenderly guides us and holds us when we’re wounded and weary, the One who keeps watch over us through the night. He is all that I need. That simple prayer helped quiet my worries and fears. The deep breathing helped to calm the physical symptoms of my anxiety, and the prayer helped me to recenter my thoughts on Christ and His love for me.

In the weeks that followed, as I sat by my daughter’s side day and night in that little room, I kept repeating short passages of Scripture to myself as I intentionally slowed my breathing, inhaling and exhaling to the rhythm of the Word. Breath prayers filled my days. Sometimes I’d walk the halls of the hospital when I was feeling overwhelmed and anxiety was tugging hard at my heart, and I’d breathe slowly as I walked, repeating the words of a short prayer over and over like a steady rhythm of grace until my body calmed and peace once again returned. Breath prayers changed me during those weeks. And they’ve continued to be a lifeline as I’ve walked through dark and difficult days since. They’ve become a comfort to me, not just in times of high anxiety but on any day, strengthening both my body and soul by helping me tuck important truths in my heart and paving paths of peace in my mind.

I humbly offer these words from my own anxiety-prone soul to yours, as a friendly and compassionate guide to the simple but powerful technique of breath prayers. No matter what condition your mind and body are in right now, no matter the reason you’re here, I hope you will find grace in these words and that breath prayer will open a door to an even deeper connection with the God who made you and loves you, the One who rescues you and redeems you, the One who is with you always, no matter what you are feeling.

~ by Jennifer Tucker, author of "Breath As Prayer"

Understanding Breath Prayers:

Breath prayers are:

Short, mostly one-sentence prayers
Rooted in Scripture
Repeated several times for the purpose of meditating on God's Word by actively processing the words and reflecting on them
Mind-FULL: focusing the mind on Christ and filling the mind with His Word
Directed upward, to God

Breath prayers are NOT:

A new-age, humanistic, self-healing practice
Rooted in eastern spirituality or pagan practices
"Mantra Meditation" with the purpose of blotting out thoughts or repeating a word or phrase over and over until even that phrase loses all meaning
Mindless: focused on emptying the mind to obtain inner peace
Directed inward, to self

Today's Breath Prayer:

Inhale: The Lord is My Shepherd
Exhale: I Have All That I Need

~ excerpt from: Calm Your Anxiety and Restore Your Soul: 7 Days of Breath Prayers

Where will you spend ETERNITY?

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