“Dear God, please make him sleep!”
I’ve lost count of the number of times I uttered this prayer in the early years of parenting. During nap time, in the middle of the night, my voice sighing with exhaustion, cracked with desperation. Instead of a dedicated time in which to pray everyday—what I used to do before kids—I only had time for drive-by prayers of the begging variety. I was just trying to hold on.
What is breath prayer?
I used to feel guilty about these prayers until I read about breath prayer. Started centuries ago with the Desert Mothers and Fathers, who were a group of people deeply committed to living the way of Christ, breath prayer is a way to “pray without ceasing” as Paul tells us to do in 1. Thessalonians 5:17.
Traditionally, you take a short excerpt of Scripture and breathe in the first part and breathe out the second part. The most common breath prayer was “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” from the petition made by the tax collector in Luke 18:13. Over time it was shortened to “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
Breath prayer is a simple way to live mindfully while also deepening our relationship with God! It brings present moment awareness and reorients our focus back to God. It helps us to stay in tune with the peace of Christ.
Suddenly I saw the potential for real connection with God in my drive-by prayers. With a bit more thoughtful intention, I could pair a short praise or petition with deep breathing in order to refocus my mind and body on God.
Breath prayer for busy moms
Breath prayer is the perfect spiritual practice for busy moms because it can be practiced on the go, or wherever you happen to be, doing whatever you happen to be doing. (It can also be practiced for several minutes at a time in a quiet space but sometimes those quiet moments are harder to come by!)
- Choose a phrase (either from scripture or a sentence of praise or petition)
- Breathe in the first part of the phrase, and breathe out the second part.
- Continue with a few deep breaths, focusing your mind on the words and your breathing.
- Try it as you wake and as you fall asleep, and as you remember it throughout your day
Some examples of breath prayer:
Jesus … let me feel your love.
O Lord … Show me your way.
In Christ alone… my soul finds rest
Speak Lord… for I am listening
Father God… I belong to you
Holy Spirit … give me strength
Teach me patience… gracious God
God who sees … be with me now
Free for you
I created some beautiful wallpapers (or backgrounds) for your phone with simple breath prayers. Let every time you pick up your phone be a reminder that you can connect with the God who loves you and gives you strength!
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