Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is prayer.
1 Hear, Yahweh, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my soul, for I am godly.
You, my God, save your servant who trusts in you.
3 Be merciful to me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to the soul of your servant,
for to you, Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
abundant in loving kindness to all those who call on you.
6 Hear, Yahweh, my prayer.
Listen to the voice of my petitions.
7 In the day of my trouble I will call on you,
for you will answer me.
8 There is no one like you among the gods, Lord,
nor any deeds like your deeds.
9 All nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord.
They shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great, and do wondrous things.
You are God alone.
11 Teach me your way, Yahweh.
I will walk in your truth.
Make my heart undivided to fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with my whole heart.
I will glorify your name forever more.
Many psalms honor our connection to God as a dialog between God and humans. But our connections aren’t just reflected through our language. Our awareness of connection to God begins with the most natural part of life, the breath. In fact, the name, “Yahweh,” literally is interpreted as “breath.” It is God’s name that demonstrates the very act of breathing. This name, written first as YHWH, is thought to mimic the actual sound of our breath as we inhale and exhale, or Yah–Weh.
God’s breath in our lungs gives life. As a contemplative prayer, we can honor God just by bringing awareness to our breath while bringing our thoughts back to God. This is a short prayer practice called a “Breath Prayer.” Perhaps it is the simplest form of any prayer! As we intentionally focus on the life-giving force of our breath, we also consciously think of God and our holy connection to the divine.
This spiritual practice can be spoken in short words, phrases or even syllables, while simply breathing in and out. Breath prayers also remind us that the act of praying need not be complex to be meaningful. Breath prayers are grounding and meditative. Breath prayers remind us that we are, and always will be, connected to the divine just by the very air we breathe.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Breath Prayers honor our connection to God through the simple act of breathing. To utilize a Breath Prayer, simply pay attention to your breath as you say (or concentrate on) a short statement. A popular breath prayer is just to say God’s name with each breath, such as saying, “Je–sus.” Another is known as the Jesus Prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Each phrase of this prayer is said as you breathe in or out. This is an extension and reference to Mark 10:47, in which a blind man, Bartimaeus, cries out to Jesus. In the prayer, the words, “a sinner” were added later. However, a Breath Prayer can be anything simple that you want to say. What simple Breath Prayer do you need to say to improve your connection to Our Lord?
(Inhale) “Lord Jesus Christ,
(Exhale) Son of God,
(Inhale) have mercy on me,
(Exhale) a sinner.“