Ways to Pray: Breath Prayer

by Emily Vanden Heuvel

Stop and breathe

Breath prayer is an ancient Christian practice of uttering as prayers simple and repeatable phrases that can be said in one breath. The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which means that prayer shouldn’t be confined to just certain times of the day, such as at meals or bedtime. Breath prayer lets us pray while we are doing other things. When I’m busy or I feel stressed, anxious, afraid, or even bored, I pray a breath prayer. This focuses me, calms my heart, and reminds me that God is ever-present in the chaos of my day.

Breathing God’s Word

As the name breath prayer implies, we pray as we breathe. Here are some examples of breath prayers from Scripture:

  • “Lord, have mercy” (Matthew 15:22)
  • “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39)
  • “God, here I am” (Isaiah 6:8)
  • “Father, your will be done” (Matthew 6:10)
  • “Holy Spirit, speak; I am listening” (John 16:13)
  • “Know that the Lord is God” (Psalm 100:3)
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • “Alleluia, Amen” (Revelation 19:4)

Can you think of any other short, repeatable phrases from Scripture that you can pray in one breath? Try it.

Take a moment to breathe

I experienced the value of breath prayer once while hiking with my family in the Rocky Mountains. The path was steep and strenuous and my exhausted kids kept asking to turn back. But I pushed us to keep going—toward the promise of a beautiful view at the top of the trail. With each breath I prayed, “Beautiful creator God.” Finally reaching the top, we all enjoyed the vista of a crystal clear lake glistening between the trees. Our fatigue forgotten, we marveled at the handiwork of our beautiful creator God!

As you climb through your strenuous day, use breath prayer to remember what you are pursuing: our beautiful creator God who always keeps his promises. Take a moment and cheerfully give each breath as you “pray without ceasing.”