I was going through the list of prayer quotes I have stashed away in Evernote. I came upon a quote that I wanted to include in this series of posts. I hadn’t saved the source of the quote. A quick copy and paste into Google provided the answer right away. The source was Richard Rohr. He said:
The traditional and most universal word to describe a different access to truth was simply “to pray about something.” But that lovely word “prayer” has been so deadened by pious use and misuse that we now have to describe this different mental attitude with new words. I am going to introduce a different word here, so you can perceive in a fresh way, and perhaps appreciate what we mean by contemplation. The word is “resonance.”
Prayer is actually setting out a tuning fork. All you can really do in the spiritual life is get tuned to receive the always-present message. Once you are tuned, you will receive, and it has nothing to do with worthiness or the group you belong to, but only inner resonance and a capacity for mutuality (Matthew 7:7-11). The Sender is absolutely and always present and broadcasting; the only change is with the receiver station.
Or as Anne Lamott wrote in her book, “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
....when you pray, you are not starting the conversation from scratch, just remembering to plug back into a conversation that's always in progress.
One of the sites that popped up in the Google search results led to a blog called “Progressive Redneck Preacher.” He published a post about a week ago entitled “Tuning into the Sacred Song: Our Week in the Living Word.” He included the tuning fork quote in that post.
He mainly wrote about a type of prayer called Breath Prayer. (and his experience with it over the course of a week) A breath prayer is a short phrase uttered soundlessly to the rhythm of our breathing….inhaling and exhaling. Examples that I particularly like…..
Inhale – “Peace”
Exhale – “Be still”
Or how about this one….that fits well with this type of prayer
Inhale – “Closer is He than breathing”
Exhale – “Nearer than hands and feet”
You get the idea. There were several links in the post that led to some websites that went into this prayer (and others) in more detail. I looked around a bit online and couldn’t find any sites better than two of the ones he listed;
The effectiveness of this prayer (in quieting our body and mind and in honing our listening to God skills) seems to be a blending of the physical and the spiritual. We all know that deep, slow rhythmic breathing calms the body. Take a deep breath. Calm down. Take ten deep breaths. Calm down even more. Sometimes when I am very, very stressed I realize I am barely breathing at all. Short, shallow, hardly there intakes of air. No wonder I feel anxious. I’m suffocating.
I have a thing about the dentist. Not a good thing either. It isn't really about the pain. It is more about the claustrophobic feeling that comes with tubes that suck and spray, grinding drills and all those hands in my face. Keith reminded me once to take deep, calming breaths. It was one of the methods he used to help his scared silly skydiving students stay calm enough to focus as they jumped out of the airplane.
The slow, steady breathing involved with this kind of prayer coupled with a calming phrase from or about scripture seems a perfect combination. On the site that talked about various ways to pray, they recommended using your ten fingers to count…yep…ten deep prayer breaths and then pausing to offer a praise or a petition or even just a moment of silent contemplation.
And in one of the articles I read, they used Anne Lamott’s simple prayer from Traveling Mercies as an example of a Breath Prayer.
Here are the two best prayers I know:“Help me, help me, help me” and "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Turn that into a Breath Prayer....
Inhale – Help me, help me, help me
Inhale – Help me, help me, help me
Exhale – Thank you, thank you thank you
More coming about different ways to help us pray....