Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 4: Breath Prayer: Week 1

Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 4: Breath Prayer Week 1

Part 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinter 2016 Colorado: I push my shovel into the hay and manure as I take a breath. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.” I toss the shovel full into the cart as I exhale. “Have mercy on me a sinner.” Then another shovel and another breath as I repeat to myself. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.” Toss the hay, exhale, “Have mercy on me a sinner.” A while back I decided to use barn cleaning time to practice The Jesus Prayer. This prayer with intentional breath as gotten me through 2 child births and filled countless hours of my life as the background music in my mind.

Autumn 1850 Russia: A peasant attends church and hears the Scripture “Pray without ceasing’ 1 Thessalonians 5:17. He is gripped by the idea, but can’t imagine how to do it. So he takes a pilgrimage to seek out the answer. He meets an old monk who brings out an ancient book of the Orthodox Fathers and introduces the pilgrim to The Jesus Prayer. The pilgrim gets a job at a local garden and spends the summer installing the prayer in his heart.

Early spring 30’s AD Jericho: Bartimatus, a blind beggar sits at the roadside. He hears a huge crowd approaching and learns that Jesus the Healer is coming his way. Bartimatus begins to loudly call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” The crowd tells him to hush up. He calls out more loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus hears Bartimatus, talks with him and by the end of their conversation Bartimatus can see and is following Jesus. (Mark 10: 46-52)

Part 2

Q: What do we do about 8 million times a year

that is both involuntary (we do it without thinking) and voluntary (we can control how we do it)?

A: Breathe

Intentional Breath methods help us:

  • Control blood pressure
  • Quickly turn off our Sympathetic (action) system and turn on our Parasympathetic (at ease) system
  • Reduces negative effects of stress
  • Lower anxiety
  • Sleep better
  • Reduce heart burn
  • Control panic attacks
  • Reduce asthma difficulties
  • Reduce PTSD
  • Improve athletic and mental performance
  • Manage pain
  • Reduce depression
  • Change brain waves especially to alpha and theta states.
  • Boost energy
  • And More…

Breath is

always at hand,

easy to use,

links our mind and body.

The Jesus Prayer is one of many prayer methods that combines the power tool of breath with prayer.

The first breath prayer I remember learning was back in high school with Campus Crusade for Christ. Spiritual Breathing: Exhale your confession and inhale the Holy Spirit.

In college I discovered The Jesus Prayer through the book The Way of a Pilgrim.

This week our sculpting work is to select a prayer phrase and then use it in-sync with our breath.

What phrase:

  1. Use the traditional Jesus Prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

    OR

  2. Select another phrase that expresses your mind and heart.

How:

  • This Breath Prayer may be said out loud or silently.
  • Break up the phrases any way you like to fit a breath pattern of inhale, pause, exhale.

When/Where:

1. You can sit down and focus on the project

OR

2.You can do a simple activity while saying your Breath Prayer. (Walking, exercising, doing dishes, knitting, . . .)

How long:

Over a summer the Russian pilgrim worked his way up to 12,000 repetitions a day and found the prayer filling his mind, waking and sleeping.

I suggest a more modest goal for this next two weeks of 5 minutes a day.

Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 4: Breath Prayer Week 1

1. Select a phrase for your prayer.

2. Select a time/ place you will practice your prayer.

3. Repeat your prayer for 5 minutes using your breath in-sync with the words.

4. Post us your time and place and what you learn.

Tips:

  • Pick a daily activity to do this prayer and you will create a tiny habit. Barn cleaning is not daily, but I have created a habit. I remember to pray the Jesus Prayer by paring it with this cleaning project.
  • I now often alter the Jesus Prayer to “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, fill me with Your ______ (love, joy, wisdom, . . .) as fits my current situation.

Objection: Isn’t this the ‘vain repetitions’ prayer Jesus warned us against? No. We know that God hears us the 1st time we say our phrase. We repeat the phrase to train our heart and mind to be present with God. We are humbly acknowledging our continual need of connection with God.

More resources:

The Jesus Prayer

Book:The Way of a Pilgrim

Website   spiritualityshoppe.org/living-the-jesus-prayer-a-brief-guide

Breath

2 Part Ted Talk (On the long side, just look at part 2 if you want a bit shorter look)

Part 1 (19 minutes) Intro    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q06YIWCR2Js

Part 2 ( 27 minutes) Addresses breath work   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_fFattg8N0

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kids like barn cleaning, too, they like to ‘help’.

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