Gari Meacham, in her book Spirit Hunger talks about the different types of prayer. She calls them breath prayer, breakthrough prayer, direction prayer and defining prayer. This chapter in particular intrigued me because I was raised with prayer being a duty and one of holy reverence that came with a whole list of do’s and don’ts. I really had NO idea there was so much to prayer.
This past week I put breath prayer into practice. I was hard-pressed from every side and seriously thought I couldn’t take another thing. Actually, nothing more could have happened. We were celebrating my sister-in-laws new marriage and I did the flowers and decorations, the whole family got together which made me feel like I did everything wrong when the boys were little, Big Bro went into CRAZY meltdown/horrible behavior mode, and everyone was using all their electronic toys and gadgets…except me. And the laundry was piling up because I have to be home to babysit the washer and hang the clothes. And, and, and.
God brought the passage in 2 Corinthians to mind, where Paul says “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Truly, the Lord is enough during these times.
This morning I looked up the whole passage with that verse in context and found it comforting.
I would encourage you to read the whole section. There is so much more in the verses following verse 11 that are uplifting and greatly encouraged me.
God reminded me about breath prayer and that was my saving grace from completely falling apart. I just whispered “be enough for me, Lord” when the feelings of despair, not-good-enough, and inadequacy threatened to overtake me.
Breath prayer became my access to the all-surpassing power that Paul says keeps us from being crushed, in despair, abandoned and destroyed. Gari explains breath prayer this way:
“Breath prayer…has its roots in Psalms, where a phrase might be repeated over and over to focus the mind on a particular idea. David was a master of breath prayer as he muttered such phrases as “the Lord is my Shepherd”; “delight yourself in the Lord.”; Lord you are my Rock and my Salvation.” Sometimes it seems as though David is whispering to himself, inviting God into a prayerful tryst that only the two of them can understand. Like breathing, the rhythm of this type of prayer redirects and refocuses a wandering mind or heart that needs to be reassured. “
“Short and sweet, this type of prayer asks for comfort and the kiss of assurance. It’s the perfect ointment to a wandering mind that is prone to get distracted or pulled into the pit of despair.”
She also quotes Richard Foster with a guide to discovering breath prayer from his book Prayer: Finding The Hearts True Home.
- Sit in silence, being held in God’s presence.
- Allow God to call you by name.
- Allow God to ask you “What do you want” “What is stirring within you?”
- Perhaps a single word will surface- peace, faith, courage, hope, inspiration.
- Maybe a phrase will come to mind- “to understand your your truth” or ” to feel your love”
- Connect the word or phrase to a comfortable way you express your praise to God- Savior, Abba, my father, sweet Lord.
- Say the prayer within the confines of a single breath.
I didn’t follow that exact regime- but it was helpful in understanding the type of prayer. I don’t want to say it worked, as if I was trying to pull something off, but God met me where I was in my cry for help as I was sinking. He became enough and pulled me through.
Praise God for His love, grace, mercy and compassion!