As we enter Lent we often focus on practices to take up or recommit to for the coming season, practices such as prayer and fasting. More traditional forms of these practices are always appropriate to take up/increase, but I would like to suggest a more simple form, one which can be especially helpful in times of stress, worry, busyness, or anxiety.
A very simple form of prayer is what can be called breath prayer. In breath prayer you focus on your breathing, letting go of whatever else might be going on in the moment (not something to try while driving). As you focus on your breath moving in and out of your lungs remember the Holy Spirit’s presence with you, for in scripture the word for spirit also means breath.
In the midst of so much happening in our world it is easy to get overwhelmed and forget that God is with us thus Paul reminds us that it is in God whom we live and move and have our being. 1 God is always with us and breath prayer can be a comforting and powerful reminder of that.
Breath prayer can, in its own way, be a fast as well as a prayer. As we focus on our breath and the presence of God with us we are setting aside, if only for a moment, whatever is occupying our hearts and minds, causing us stress, worry, or anxiety. And so for that moment we partake in a fast from those thoughts, so that we might draw close to God.
I pray that this practice might be one among many in your spiritual toolkit. A prayer to draw you back to God who is ever present and a momentary fast from the thoughts that pull us away from God.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, Fill me with life anew, That I may love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, Till I am wholly Thine, Until this earthly part of me Glows with Thy fire divine.
1 Acts 17:28