By Bill Gaultiere © 2006, 2011
What a blessing it is to use a beloved Bible verse as a short Breath Prayer. Breathing a prayer from Scripture can be a special way of Abiding in Prayer that God uses to restore our souls in his peace.
A Breath Prayer rhythm is simple: Breathe in slow and deep as you whisper or think on a Bible phrase and hold your breath… Then exhale. It’s that easy.
My article on Breath Prayers explains the Christian history of Breath Prayers, their Biblical background, and their value for spiritual formation in Christ.
Breath Prayer Rhythms
For Breath Prayers I find a particular breathing pattern that fits the Bible verse and aids in meditation. This is a simple and powerful way to use our bodies with intentionality to help us engage our minds and hearts on God’s Word. With each Breath Prayer below I suggest that you whisper or think the words of Scripture in connection to your rhythm of breathing. To help you follow along I put ellipses after the part of the prayer that you whisper or think as you breathe in.
There are three basic patterns:
- Breathe in a Bible phrase..
- Breathe in half of a Bible phrase… Breathe out the other half.
- Wait to breathe as you meditate on the first part of a Bible phrase / Breathe in the second part… / Breathe out the third part.
Try it. That’s the way you’ll understand the value of Breath Prayers.
At first it might feel awkward, as it takes practice for slow, deep breathing to become natural and beneficial. It also takes practice using the Breath Prayer rhythms below before their meanings become deeply associated with your breathing pattern such that they live in your unconscious mind and don’t require much thought.
Rely on the Spirit of Christ to assist you, helping you to find the Bible phrase you most need to pray and to get into a good rhythm with it. He may lead you to develop your own Breath Prayer practice that will have special meaning for you.
Favorite Breath Prayers from the Bible
Here are some of the Breath Prayers from the Bible that have been most helpful to people. Each includes a suggested breathing rhythm for you to try. (All verses are NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)
Listen to God
“Speak Lord, for your servant hears…” (1 Samuel 3:9 & 10, NKJV).
Try it this way: Ask God a question. Then breathe your longing to hear God’s words… Breathe out stress and hurry.
“The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1, KJV).
Try it this way: Breathe in to entrust yourself to Jesus… Breathe out to let go of wanting _______.
Submit to Father God
“Father… into your hands I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31:5 & Luke 23:46).
Try it this way: Breathe in the Father’s love… Breathe out to stop tying to control or worry about the outcome of ________.
“Know that Jesus is Lord… Cease striving” (Based on Psalm 46:10, NASB).
Try it this way: Breathe in to seek the Lord Jesus… Breathe out to cease striving about _______.
Rest in Christ
“In Christ alone my soul finds rest… Selah” (Based on Psalm 62:1, 5).
Try it this way: Breathe in the peace of Christ… Breathe out your stress.
Center on Jesus
“Jesus, be the center…” (Based on Matthew 17:6-8, MSG, and Matthew 21:9, NLT).
Try it this way: Breathe in to focus on Jesus… Breathe out distractions.
“Abba, I belong to you…” (Brennan Manning’s prayer based on Romans 8:15).
Try it this way: Breathe in your longing for Abba… Breathe out to rest in his arms.
Trust the Spirit’s Guidance
“Live by the Spirit… Keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Try it this way: As you’re walking, breathe in to trust the Spirit of Christ… Breathe out to follow his lead.
Humble yourself in Intercession
“In Christ’s humility… Consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Try it this way: Breathe in Christ’s love… Breathe out his love for another person, perhaps someone you feel jealous of.