Breath Prayer


Breath prayer, or “prayer of the heart,” has been practiced in the church for millennia. Breathing is an unconscious thing. Breath prayer reminds us that just as we can’t live on one breath of air, we can’t live on one breath of God. God is the oxygen of our soul, and we need to breathe God in all day long. After all, it is in God that “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Breath prayer reminds us that each breath we are given is God’s gift and that God’s Spirit is nearer to us than our own breath.


  1. Begin by sitting quietly and remembering the truth that Christ is in you.
  2. As you deeply inhale, silently repeat any name of God that is dear to you.
  3. As you slowly exhale, silently repeat a deep desire of your heart.
  4. Repeat the prayer over and over, keeping your attention on the prayer. If your attention wanders, gently return to the prayer.

Practical Points

  • Examples of breath prayers include:

    Abba … I am yours
    Healer … heal me
    Wisdom … guide me
    Holy One … keep me true
    Jesus … here I am
    Lord … have mercy on me
  • The breath prayer is usually repeated silently, but some people sing it or chant it. It’s your prayer, so use it your way. The brevity of the prayer allows it to be repeated throughout the day as you desire.
  • Begin with 5 minutes per session and gradually increase the time to 20 minutes per session as you become disciplined with the prayer. You may want to use a timer to free yourself from watching the clock. Some find it useful to write in a journal of their experience with the prayer.


The text on this page was excerpted from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Kindle Edition) by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun and published by IVP Books. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in spiritual disciplines. You can purchase this book by clicking on the image below.

From the publisher: In Spiritual Disciplines Handbook Adele Calhoun gives us directions for our continuing journey toward intimacy with Christ. While the word discipline may make us want to run and hide, the author shows how desires and discipline work together to lead us to the transformation we’re longing for―the transformation only Christ can bring. Instead of just giving information about spiritual disciplines, this handbook is full of practical, accessible guidance that helps you actually practice them. With over 80,000 copies in print, this well-loved catalog of seventy-five disciplines has been revised throughout and expanded to include thirteen new disciplines along with a new preface by the author