Breath Prayers – An Ancient Form of Prayer

Psalm 150: 6: “Let every living, breathing creature praise God!”

Breathing is something that we often take for granted. It is a type of body function that is under conscious and unconscious control. Most of the time, we breathe without thinking about it. When we are afraid or after exercising we may try to slow our breathing in order to calm ourselves.

Christians view the breath as the Holy Spirit moving within the body. Breath prayers are a very ancient form of prayer. The Jesus Prayer has been used for 1500 years! This prayer is said mentally to the rhythm of the breath: “Lord Jesus Christ/Son of God/have mercy on me/a sinner” (inhale/exhale/inhale/exhale). It can also be shortened to “Lord Jesus Christ/Have mercy on me”. Other examples: “Holy Wisdom/Guide me”, “When I am afraid /I will trust in you”. You can compose your own breath prayer! Choose a word or phrase that has particular spiritual meaning, or choose a Bible verse, and say this prayer to the rhythm of your breathing, over and over. This can be very helpful when you are feeling tense, grateful or afraid.

Psalm 150 says that “every living, breathing creature” praises God! Plants breathe as they take in the carbon dioxide that we exhale, and then give out oxygen, which we in turn take into our lungs as we inhale. We share our carbon dioxide with the plants in return. We join the plants in a never-ending cycle of prayer. Perhaps this is a way to carry out the directive to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17)!


Kathleen Simley

Author Kathleen Simley

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