BREATH PRAYER: FATHER, transform my heart in this ordinary time.
May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
Let your ways be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
- In a journal, note the day, time, and place you’re sitting.
- Open with silence. Set a timer for 1, 3, or 5 minutes so you can be free to rest and breathe deeply.
- Complete the following sentence in your journal: Today, I feel ________________.
- Read the centering verse above slowly (aloud or silently).
- Pause for a few moments of silence, then pray this week’s breath prayer.
Prayer is the soul’s approach to God.
—Father Andrew (Anglican priest and friar from the early 20th century)
Have you ever just stared at a flame for no good reason? Have you ever felt the delight of holding a child to your chest or having a pet jump up into your lap? What happens inside of you when you sit in the presence of someone you love and just enjoy each other without feeling the need to introduce speech into the moment?
These things are the essence of contemplative prayer. When we engage in this practice, we let go of our tendency to tell God what He needs to be doing in the world. Instead, we simply abide in His presence and allow Him to guide the time of prayer.
If this strikes you as awkward or, worse yet, spiritually unproductive, you are not alone. Contemplative prayer is a mysterious act of deep trust. We are trusting that God will know and address our needs whether we express them to Him or not. We are trusting that time with Him abiding in His presence is of deep benefit to our souls and to our relationship with Him.
Sit quietly with God 5, 15, 30, 60 minutes or more. Do not try to drive a conversation or conjure up an experience. Fully trust the the Lord wants to spend time with you and rest in that. He may have thoughts or feeling that He wants to bring to your mind, or He may just want you to sit with Him. There is nothing to strive for or achieve in this time. Just be with the Lord and see where He takes you.
If you are having difficulty with contemplative prayer, you may want to try a few of these guidelines:
- If you feel that you are too conscious of time, set a timer so that you can fully let go of having to keep track.
- If you mind wanders, simply draw your awareness back to being present with the Lord. Don’t feel the need to beat yourself up or “try harder.”
- Some people like to choose a sacred word to focus on in their time of contemplative prayer. The word can either be a grace that you desire such as peace, love, patience, etc, or it can be a name or characteristic of God such as Healer, Counselor, Mighty, etc. Whenever you sense your thoughts drifting away from God’s presence, simply repeat this word quietly as a way of expressing your desire to focus completely on Him. Allow the repetition to quietly draw your thoughts back to His nearness.
Summary: Write in your journal a brief summary (five sentences or less) of your practice
Closing: Father, transform my heart in this ordinary time.
If you are unsure how to begin listening for God’s voice and leading in your life, listen to this message by Larry Green, given at the Parish. Feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com for more information or help with these practices.