breath prayer: tend your soul in seasons of change

Welcome to Tending through the Seasons series, where writers from various seasons of life share how they are tending their soul by the Word of God through their current season.

Meet Celia Miller. She is a wife, writer and avid lover, and pursuer of Jesus. She and her husband reside in Greenwood, Indiana with their two very cute, but very ornery, fur babies. She works full time in the health insurance industry but her true passion lies in sharing the heart of Jesus with others through her writing. Celia writes to remind you that you are fiercely beloved and fervently pursued by the One who created you. You can find her over on her blog at celiaamiller.com or go hang out with her on Instagram at @celiaamiller.

Celia writes…

I stand in the middle of the room tired, weary, and covered in dirt and dust that is not my own.

Paintbrush in hand, I sigh, take a step back to admire my work, and wonder how on earth this house is ever going to look like a home.

The carpet needs replaced, two other bedrooms need to be painted and I’m still waiting on the dining room table to arrive.

How, Lord, am I going to get this finished before we move in?

I’ve entered a season of transition and change and I’m not one to call a friend. Exhausted, I return the paintbrush to its can and look down at my paint-stained hands. I hear my breath growing ragged, coming urgently, and I recognize what triggers it. The anxiety. The overwhelm. The ‘how?’.

Before it overtakes me completely, I hold out my hands, palms heavenward.

I close my eyes, recalling a Psalm that I had read that morning in my Bible reading.

I breathe in deeply as the first part of Psalm 116:7 fills my mind, ‘Return to your rest, my soul,” I exhale slowly the second half of the Scripture, “for the Lord has been good to you.’

I repeat this exercise twice more, this dancing with Scripture in my mind as I posture my body and soul towards Heaven. As I stand there, eyes closed, I can feel the anxiety gradually retreating back to its dark corner as the peace of God’s presence settles gently in the air around me.

I open my eyes, now grounded by this sacred practice, and by the Word of the One who is always with me. This sacred practice, this practice that I’ve adopted in this season of anxiety and change is called ‘breath prayer’ and it has been a lifeline for me.

I was first introduced to breath prayer, also known as ‘prayer of the heart’, through Marjorie J. Thompson’s book, Soul Feast. Marjorie describes breath prayer as a way to move us “from head to heart” in our Spiritual lives,

“Prayers of the heart are typified by short phrases. They are repeated first on the lips and then in the mind until they take on a life of their own deep within us. When such prayers become embedded in our life awareness and daily activity, they have truly become “heart prayers”… the use of this kind of prayer over time helps us experience what it means for the Spirit to pray in us (Rom. 8:26-27). It is also a short prayer that can be said or thought in a single breath.”

Breath prayer has kept me rooted in the Word of God and makes me more aware of His presence with me throughout each and every day.

It’s a way to stay in constant communication and connection with the Holy Spirit anywhere, at any time.

What I love about this practice is that anyone can do it! It doesn’t take up much time so it’s ideal for those of us who are constantly on the go or find ourselves in busy, wearisome seasons but are still wanting to prioritize connection with the Creator.

If you find yourself like me today, friend, tired and anxious from your current season of life, and breath prayer sounds like a practice that your soul desperately needs, I would encourage you to utilize the following steps:

1. Name What You Need. What is it that you are needing the most from God in this season? Is it rest? Peace? Joy? Hope? Take time to contemplate what your greatest need from the Lord is, give it a name and hold it close.

2. Choose a Name for God. How do you normally address the Lord in prayer? Do you use, Father God? Jesus? Lord? Holy Spirit? Identify a name for God that feels natural to you in prayer.

3. Pair What You Need with Your Name for God. One of the simplest ways to practice breath prayer is to take the name you’ve chosen for God and pair it with what you are needing most from Him. Here are a few examples that may get you started, Abba Father, I long for your peace. Father God, I belong to you. Jesus, I ask for your patience.

4. Choose a Scripture. You can also choose a Scripture to practice breath prayer! I particularly love using Scripture because it’s a great way to stay rooted in the Word of God and memorize short verses.

Here are a few you might use to get you started,

  • Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).
  • Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you (Psalm 116:7)
  • You have searched me, Lord, and you know me (Psalm 139:1)

After you’ve named your need, chosen your name for God or a Scripture, it’s time to put breath prayer into practice! I typically like to close my eyes and lift my hands out in surrender, but you don’t have to do it this way.

You can simply be driving in the car, sitting on the couch, in a waiting room, or at your desk at work. All you have to do is take a deep breath in, and as you do, repeat the first half of the phrase or Scripture in your mind. On the exhale, focus on the second half of the phrase or Scripture and repeat this process two or three more times.

Breath prayer is a wonderful way to reduce stress and anxiety, remain grounded in the truth of Jesus, and heighten your awareness of His presence with you. It has personally impacted me on a very deep level, and I pray that it would leave a lasting impact on you as well, my friend. I pray that as you learn to adopt this sacred practice, you would feel the loving presence of God all around you as you seek to tend your soul with His sweet truth. Remember, friend, He is with you in every season.

xoxo, Celia

Connect with Celia:

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Looking for a resource for the names of God to help with your breath prayers? Drop your email below for Adoring God, a free PDF on names of God to worship.

Check out my NEW names of God study, From Yahweh to Jesus: Finding Stability in Our Unchanging God. CLICK HERE.

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