An Introduction to
Members of Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church have written breath prayers that will appear here weekly from now into the future. Ancient Christians responded to difficult times by offering breath prayers, a prayer and meditation practice as valuable today as when it first began. Breath prayers let us trade stress for peace.In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Breath prayers are a way to unceasing prayer that don’t require us to set aside large amounts of time, that don’t happen in a special place, that don’t demand we come up with the right words. Breath prayers are simple communications with God that remind us God is always present when we call. We can speak them, breathe them wherever we are throughout the day.
As we deal with the spread of COVID-19 and the daily stream of painful news it brings, it is easy to wonder where God is. As this plague attacks people’s ability to breathe, we can celebrate the gift of life that is found in the simple act of inhaling and exhaling, actions we usually do without thinking. When offering breath prayers, we focus on our breathing. Here’s how they work.
There are two parts to a breath prayer. You begin by deciding on a name for God that has meaning for you in the moment. You will begin your prayer by speaking this name silently or aloud as you inhale the breath of life. The second part of the prayer comes as you exhale. This can be a few words of thanks or a few words of petition to God. The entire prayer is a sentence or less. It is something you can learn by simply repeating it a few times as you begin a day then offering the same prayer throughout the day. You will rediscover the act of breathing is an amazing and miraculous process. And you will find your frequent speaking with God, however short and sweet, will remind you God is present with you in your sadness, your stress, your worry, your loneliness, your grief over so much loss all around you.
An ancient common breath prayer was “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Over time this was shortened to “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy” and then to “Jesus, mercy.” Breath prayers often are inspired by Scripture using a variety of names for God that come from the Bible and focusing on who we are called to be as Christians in a turbulent world.
Pastor Joe recently asked members of Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church to share breath prayers and related Scripture passages. A number of folks responded. Beginning this week, their prayers will be shared here and on the CCUMC website, one a week. Some will be edited to fit into the rhythm of breathing in and out. When the person included Scripture, that will be included. Anyone wanting to submit a breath prayer, can send it to either Pastor Joe, firstname.lastname@example.org or Dana Jones at email@example.com.
We hope you will not just read these heart-felt prayers but take time on first reading to say the prayer multiple times toward memorizing it. You may want to jot it down on a piece of paper to post on your fridge or bathroom mirror, put in your pocket or wallet, stick on the dashboard of your car or top of your TV. Just pick a place where you will see it often so you can say it throughout your day. Pray this prayer multiple times a day every day for a week. You may find yourself praying without ceasing.