Breath Prayers

There is a simple way of praying that has been transformative for me over the years known by some as “breath prayers. “As you draw near to God throughout the day, he draws near to you. One way we can begin conditioning our heart to be sensitive to God’s Spirit is through the use of “breath prayers.” A breath prayer is one sentence prayer we repeat throughout our day to keep ourselves focused on God and open to his presence around us. A breath prayer is often a simple summary or application of a Biblical truth. Henry Nouwen in his book Spiritual Formation describes this type of prayer as a way to pray without ceasing:

Pray Without Ceasing…You may have heard about the famous “Jesus Prayer”—“ Lord Jesus Christ, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner”— from the Gospel of Luke (18: 38).

When these words are repeated daily, they become a part of our breathing, part of our heartbeat, part of our whole way of being.

Known as the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart,” early practitioners would repeat to the rhythm of their breath the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” In time, the prayer was shortened to, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy” or simply, “Jesus, mercy.”

The breath prayer is usually said silently within. Under your breath more or less or easily in one breath.

Once you have discovered your breath prayer, pray it into the spaces of your day-when you are waiting, when you are worried or anxious, when you need a sense of God’s presence. Over time you will learn to pray it underneath all the other thoughts and words that swirl around you throughout the day, and eventually you will discover you are praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) in a way that has deep meaning and great power.


This week you can begin by using Jeremiah 29:11-13 (chapter 29, verses 11 through 13) and John 1:1-4 as the sources for your “breath prayers.” Each day you can create a breath prayer from one of these passages. You will simply pray your breath prayer over and over throughout your day. You will be surprised how uplifting and encouraging breath prayers can be.


Let’s read Jeremiah then see an example breath prayer:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)


Example Breath Prayer – “I am seeking you.”


Now you try. Read Jeremiah 29:11-13 above and write a very short sentence you could repeat throughout the day.


My Breath Prayer from Jeremiah 29:11-13 is…


Each day of this week take a minute to record any thoughts or spiritual insights you have about God and your search for him. Begin each day this week by reading Jeremiah 29:11-13 or John 1:1-4. Write a simple breath prayer. Use your breath prayer throughout the day, then end the day by recording your thoughts and insights in a journal.


Begin today by preparing yourself to seek God before you even head out for the day. Read a scripture passage for the day. Pray your breath prayer and ask God to draw near to you today.



Inspired by Breath