Breath prayers are simple, short phrases that can be prayed on the inhale and exhale of a breath. The most famous example of this type of prayer is what’s known as the Jesus prayer, which is well known in the Eastern church.
There are several benefits to this type of prayer. They are easy to remember and can be used anywhere and everywhere, no matter where you are or what you are doing, which lends itself well to the practice of praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It’s a simple way to bring a calm and prayerful focus to your day anywhere, anytime.
Their simplicity makes them remarkably adaptable. They can be a wonderful way to pray with beads, your steps as you walk, or even just in time with your breathing. They aren’t limited to any one format or use.
These prayers also allow us to make good use of the breath as a prayer tool by incorporating our breath into our prayers.
Personally, I find them to be helpful (in combination with a long string of prayer beads, like a mala or Orthodox prayer beads) in helping my mind settle into a space of contemplative prayer. The simple repetition becomes like a mantra that occupies my mind just enough for me to sink below my words and thoughts into that vast stillness of contemplation. My favorite breath prayer is a shortened version of Psalm 46:10 to just (inhale) Be (exhale) Still. It brings to mind the longer psalm while simultaneously reminding myself to still my mind and body in God’s presence.
I’ve collected examples of breath prayers below. I post a new one each week on my Be Still Beads Facebook page and will add the new ones here as they are made. Be sure to bookmark this post so you can easily return to it to find the new additions!
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