“Thoughts continue to jostle in your head like mosquitoes. To stop this jostling you must bind the mind with one thought, or the thought of One only.”
(Theophane the Recluse as quoted by Richard Foster in Prayer, p. 124)
Swatting worry mosquitoes:
Sometimes we think of prayer as another item on a long list of things we should be doing. It can get buried in between eat right and exercise in the list of “oughts” that somehow become undesirable because they are not fun.
There is an insidious lie in that. Prayer is talking with and listening to the one who loves us so much we can’t fathom it. Prayer is going through life with him, knowing that he is for us, and every breath we breathe is filled with his delight in us. We breathe and our hearts continue to beat because he loves us. How could living in that unbelievably wonderful reality be reduced to drudgery?
Yet so much daily-ness encroaches. My thoughts buzz around my head like a swarm of mosquitoes. When I am sinking into worry or fear it is even worse. The same thoughts circle around in my thoughts, over and over again. I have a long list of inglorious tasks that seem so unimportant to work through today, driving to school and back, washing smelly underwear, cleaning up spilled milk. How can I live aware that God is with me while my brain and body are full of small things or big worries?
One way is to create and pray a breath prayer.
Ancient saints used what was called a “breath prayer” as a way to pray constantly. This is a prayer meant to be repeated throughout the day. It can be anything, as long as it takes no more than one breath’s time to pray it.
In my favorite book on prayer, appropriately titled Prayer, Richard Foster suggests “discovering” your breath prayer.
He recommends taking the following steps.
- Sit in silence in God’s presence.
- Allow God to call you by name and ask the question Jesus so often asked of people who sought him “What do you want?”
- Answer the question with the single word or simple phrase that comes to mind.
- Write out your breath prayer.
- Pray it as often as possible, allowing God to lead you to alter it.
Ask God to give you a just the right words for your breath prayer. Pray it until it you feel a sense of peace that it is time to ask for a new breath prayer.
I tend to use my breath prayer to help me maintain a firm connection with God. His desires become my desires.
Here are a few of my favorite breath prayers to get you started:
- Thank you, Jesus that you love me and free me. (Revelation 1:5)
- Jesus, I will not fear evil for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)
- Jesus deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:13)
- Lord, I love you. I want to love you more. (Matthew 22:37)
- Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)
- I come to you, Lord Jesus, give me rest.(Matthew 11:28-28)
- Abba, Father. Bless and keep my children (husband, parents, friend…)
- Lord Jesus, help me to cast all my cares on you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Or, the traditional Jesus prayer
- Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, sinner. (Luke 18:13)
- Have mercy on me, oh Lord! (Mathew 15:22)