Did you know that a fully relaxed person takes 4-6 breaths per minute? Deep breaths, from the very deep-down pit of the stomach.
Did you know that the average person in our culture breathes 16-20 times per minute? Shallow breaths, from the chest.
“The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
The word ‘breath’ in the beautiful phrase ‘breath of life’ is also another word for spirit in its original language. Breath and spirit are married. God ties in breath with existence as a living being. Could our shallow breath culture be a symptom of shallow being?
How did we get to a place where we hurry along so quickly that our bodies are no longer breathing deeply and, perhaps, our sense of Spirit is shrinking too?
This week, I dare you to try breath prayers. Breath prayers have been a part of the Christian tradition for hundreds and hundreds of years. Pick a short phrase that resonates authentically with your life and season and literally pray it as you inhale and exhale.
For one season of my life when I was realizing I wasn’t nearly as awesome or perfect as I thought I was (shocking), my breath prayer was ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner’ adapted straight from Luke 18:13. As I breathed in slowly I would pray the first part (have mercy on me) and as I exhaled slowly, I would pray the second part (a sinner).
For another season when I was wanting to truly experience instead of just simply know in my head about God’s love, my breath prayer became ‘Let me experience Your Love.’
The ways to adapt this are endless. I know of a woman who wasn’t a Christian and found that she was more confused than anything. Her prayer became ‘Show me what Truth is.’ I love how real that is.
Pick your own and make yourself breathe deeper this week. I promise it isn’t just refreshing for your body but also for your soul. I believe God somehow connected these two things with great purpose and what a simple way to become more aware of Him in curious, ordinary, or unexpected places.