Breath Prayer

23 Jul

Two days ago I climbed on a bus in Concord, New Hampshire; ’twas the first leg of my journey home to Guayaquil, Ecuador.  I’m not afraid of traveling alone, as a matter of fact I kind of enjoy it.  However, I do tend to fret a bit.  You know, the what-if-the-bus-gets-caught-in-traffic-and-I’m-late kind of fretting.  My muscles tensed.

All of a sudden, the concept of breath prayers popped into my mind.  I’d read about them years before in Richard Foster’s book, Prayer.  I began to pray, “Help me rest in You, Daddy,” as the bus moved down the highway and through the next two days.  God gave me plenty of opportunities to practice!  My bus was late due to traffic, the Boston airport had no electricity and couldn’t check anyone in, the Miami airport had us running mini-marathons due to a number of gate changes, our flight was cancelled (although I have to say I slept in the BEST BED EVER at the Doubletree Inn), and our flight was delayed twice the next morning (once because of no pilot and another time they needed to find and remove baggage of passengers who did not make the flight).  Not to mention a two and a half hour line to get through customs in Guayaquil!

I prayed and prayed my breath prayer, and guess what?  I rested.

Notice the brevity of breath prayers–seldom more than seven or eight syllables.  Also note the sense of nearness and intimacy:  God is addressed in a close, personal way.  See too how the person praying expresses dependence, docility, trust–the opposite of self-reliance.  Then notice the prayers are all requests.  This is self-focused prayer in the sense that we are asking something to be done in us or to us.  But it is not self-centered prayer, for the requests of breath prayer are seasoned reflections on the will and ways of God.  –Richard Foster, Prayer

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4 Responses to “Breath Prayer”

  1. 365daysofpeace July 24, 2010 at 3:03 am #

    Beautiful post! I had heard of breath prayers and even used them, but, I hadn’t spent the time to research them. Thanks for sharing.

    By the way, I absolutely love the design of your blog.

    God’s blessings today!

  2. susanjean July 24, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Thanks so much! Foster also says that the scriptural basis for breath prayers comes from our instructions to pray without ceasing and from the repeated refrains in the Psalms. God’s best to you.

  3. Ian Webster July 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for your post.
    Since high school I have been inspired by Nehemiah 2:4&5, “So I prayed to the God of heaven and I said to the King….”.

  4. susanjean July 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    I love that! I’ve taught our youth group that it’s not so much WWJD but, “What should I say/do now, Lord?”

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