READ: Leviticus 7-9, Psalm 34, Mark 6, Romans 6
From the 4th to the 16th century, Christians prayed what they called “Breath Prayers.” The idea was to spend some time in reflection in order to identify what your heart really longed for from the Lord. What is it your spirit cries out for? What is the primal need of soul that you are desperate to receive from the Lord? This prayer was then encapsulated in a short sentence (7-9 syllables). Christians would begin to pray this prayer numerous times a day. They would pick an event that happened frequently during the day, and every time that event occurred, they would lift up their prayer to the Lord. These prayers started out feeling somewhat academic and dry, but over the weeks and months of discipline, the prayers became more natural. As months became years, these prayers moved even into the sub-conscious levels, being prayed reflexively – even in sleep! These prayers became as natural and regular as breathing.
Abiding in Jesus essentially means to lavish extravagantly daily time on Him. This is enjoyed in two primary ways: (1) A fixed block of time (repeated daily at the same time) spent in Bible reading, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines, and (2) all day, continual communion. Breath prayers are a way that we can abide in an ongoing manner.
When I was 18 years old I attended a “watch night service.” This is what we used to call the prayer meeting on the evening of December 31st, when we gathered to pray in the new year. There is something blessed in greeting the new year on our knees. At this particular prayer meeting, a little box of Scripture verses were passed out. We were encouraged to take one and to pray that scripture the rest of the year. My verse, randomly given, has become my life verse, Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those that are crushed in spirit.”
From that verse I have derived my breath prayer. The great longing of my heart is that I would be near to Jesus and He near to me. If I have that, I have all. Taking that verse and the second verse of “Away in a Manger,” I daily try to pray, “Be near me, Lord Jesus.”
Jesus invites us to abide with Him. If we do so, He promises we will bear fruit (other disciples in the John 15 context) and they, in turn, will abide. Central to abiding is communing with Jesus all day long. Breath prayers help us abide. Let us breath to Jesus the desires of our heart.