A New Breath Prayer

This morning’s post is a prayer that I adapted from one posted on Facebook last week. I am fascinated by the power of breathing prayers, especially combined with scenes of tranquility, to quiet my soul and draw me closer to God.

Breathe in peace.001

Return to Our Senses – Learning to Breathe the Jesus Prayer

Elijah fed by raven

Elijah fed by raven

The following post is the second in a series that is excerpted from my upcoming book Return to Our Senses, which will be available in mid November.

The Jesus Prayer

It was the Desert Fathers and Mothers who withdrew into the Egyptian desert about three centuries after Christ to pray and meditate on God’s word, who really developed breath prayers as a spiritual discipline. Evidently they would often sit outside their cells weaving baskets and contemplating Christ’s presence in quiet solitude meditating on short, one breath prayers. They breathed in God’s word slowly and deeply, reverently repeating the prayer over and over, letting it permeate their minds and descend into their hearts. Sometimes they would breathe their prayer before going to sleep at night, repeating it until it lodged deep in their souls. When they woke in the morning the prayer was still on their lips.

Many scholars believe that the Desert Fathers and Mothers picked up one of the most common prayers of the Psalmist: “Lord, have mercy” and developed it into a breath prayer that later became known as the Jesus Prayer. Sometimes it is expanded as “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. For more information visit Soul Shepherding 

Not surprisingly, many of us continue to find breathing prayers provide wonderfully enriching ways to deepen our intimacy with God. Some breathing prayers, like the name YHWH and the Jesus prayer, are simple exercises in breathing in and out that calm our spirits and center our attention on the God who is life and love. They usually involve the use of a simple word or phrase from scripture. Here is one example of a well used breath prayer that draws from Psalm 23. Breathe in slowly and deeply as you whisper or think: “The Lord is my Shepherd…” Hold your breath and your consciousness of God’s presence… And then exhale as you whisper or think: “…I shall not want.”

Other breathing prayers are more complex. They can be used to remind us of the incredible transformation that God has initiated and will one day bring to completion in all of us. Other breathing prayers remind us of our commitment to see God’s world transformed into a place peace and abundance for all. Still other breathing prayers can draw us into that intimate place of communion with a God who loves us more deeply than we can ever imagine.

Expand Your Breathing Practices

Over the last few years I have composed a number of breathing prayers that move beyond the simple calming and centering of the Jesus prayer. Some, like this next prayer are wonderful reminders for me of the characteristics of the God’s whose breath I inhale. At the same time they encourage me, as I exhale, to expel from myself all that is not of God.

Breathing prayers are not about emptying ourselves so that we feel a void inside. They are about renewing our minds by saturating ourselves with the presence of God. I like to imagine that the outward breath creates a new space for God to fill. The inward breath draws something new of God’s character into me. As I breathe this prayer I visualize myself breathing in a little more of God and who God intends me to be and letting go of some of what is not of God.

Breathe out empty yourself: of hate, of fear, of anxiety,

Breathe in fill yourself with love, with life, with mercy.

Breathe out empty yourself of busyness, of selfishness of greed,

Breathe in fill yourself with peace, with joy, with hope.

Breathe out empty yourself of idolatry, of self worship, of false gods,

Breathe in fill yourself with God, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit.

Breathing prayers can also form an important foundation for our engagement in the pain and suffering of God’s world. I wrote the following prayer to remind myself that breath cannot be held to oneself. We must breathe it back out into the world.  I am called to be both a contemplative and an activist and I as I take notice of my breathing I am reminded constantly of that.

Obviously this is a very different understanding of the outward breath than I described above. This double meaning is very much in keeping with the physical act of breathing out however. We breathe out to expel toxic substances from your body, cleansing and renewing our blood. That outgoing breath can also be a source of life to others however. Mouth to mouth resuscitation depends on this. That breath which cleanses and renews our bodies, holds something of the life giving presence of God which goes back out into the world to renew the life of others.

This post is excepted from my new book Return to Our Senses which is now available through Mustard Seed Associates at a pre-publication discounted price of $15. 

Prayers for the Journey

Speak to me

Speak to me – Bonnie Harr

The beauty of the prayers that continue to be posted on the Light for the Journey site enrich and stir my faith. I hope that they will yours as well.

Let us walk into this day,

God’s love to give us hope,

Christ’s life to give us guidance,

The Spirit’s power to transform us.

Let us walk with joy,

Let us walk with purpose,

Let us walk each step towards God’s new world.

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May we put our hope in God’s unfailing love,

And trust in God’s eternal faithfulness.

May it lead us into paths of justice,

And guide us towards God’s righteousness,

Where we give ourselves to feed the hungry,

And commit ourselves to share God’s healing.

May we always live towards God’s new reality,

A new community with wholeness, peace and abundance for all.

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Let us pray for justice

Let us pray for justice faithandworship.com

God give us this day your hearts desire,

May we love as you love with justice and mercy,

May we live as Christ lived with compassion and generosity,

May we become what the spirit intends filled with peace and joy,

May we this take new steps to be transformed into the image of God.

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Pray for justice

Pray for justice – Christine Sine

Lord, we bring to you those ‘almost’ moments.

When the opportunity arose to bring your name

into a conversation and we almost did.

When we were challenged to give to those

who are in need, and we almost did.

When we heard of an injustice and, tempted

to reach for our pen, we almost did.

When challenged by the whisper of your voice

to go where you would send, we almost did.

Forgive our timidity, our reluctance

to live the life that we proclaim.

Fill us with your Spirit of love and power

that by our words and actions

your name might be glorified,

and our ‘almost’ become ‘always’!

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May our ears be attuned

May our ears be attuned – faithandworship.com

In you, O Lord, do we trust,

in your love we delight,

for there is no other

to whom we can turn

who knows our needs

before we ask,

reads our hearts

and answers our requests.

In you, O Lord, do we trust,

in your peace we depend,

for there is no other

to whom we can turn

who calms our souls,

brings release,

and in whose

arms we would rest.

 

(www.faithandworship.com)

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God let us not hold onto what we should release,

Let us not embrace what does not satisfy,

Let us not commit to what is not your will.

May we give up all to follow,

Twighlight burning

Twighlight burning – Bonnie Harr

Morning and Evening Prayer

I do not usually post on Sunday, but having missed yesterday thought that I would make a concession today – and with beautiful morning and evening prayers like this to share why not? These are just some of the prayers that have been shared at Light for the Journey this week – more to come tomorrow.

 

Prayers for the Journey

Celtic prayer

From Mary DeJong http://waymarkers.wordpress.com/

The end of another busy week  and it is time to post prayers from my facebook page Light for the Journey. The richness of contributions from the expanding team of contributors is amazing.  As I mentioned last week, I have enlisted the help of Jamie Arpin Ricci author of The Cost of Community and founder of Litte Flowers community in Winnipeg Manitoba; Phileena Heuertz co-founder of Word Made Flesh and author ofPilgrimage of a SoulMicha Jazz a contemplative activist in Chichester UK and a member of the Axiom Monastic Community; Bonnie Harr who posts prayers and reflections at In His FootstepsJohn Birch who posts Celtic Prayers and Resources atFaith and WorshipMary Plate DeJong who leads pilgrimages to Iona Scotland and is Forest Steward for one of Seattle’s urban forests and Mark Scandrette author ofPracticing the Way of Jesus and founding director of ReIMAGINE in San Francisco.

There are too many prayers for a single post, so I will post some today and some tomorrow. If you would like to access these prayers and reflections each day (and see  all the beautiful images that accompany them) please “like” the Light for the Journey Facebook page.

God my creator,

Draw me closer.

Christ my redeemer,

Draw me closer.

Spirit my advocate,

Draw me closer.

Let the eyes of my heart rest on you.

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God may I give myself only

to that which satisfies my heart,

May I give myself only

to that which strengthens my soul,

May I give myself only

to that which draws me closer to you.

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God you are love,

All you are expresses love,

All you do flows from love.

Lord wipe the scales from our eyes,

That we might see what love is doing.

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Eternal God, Creator of all that is,

all that was, all that will ever be.

You who made the sun and moon,

Who brought night and day into being,

Transform our darkness into light,

Renew us, restore us, redeem us,

Let your presence shine through us,

That all might see.

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This is your world I step upon

the air I breathe

the food I eat

This is your world I step upon

the sounds I hear

the people I meet

This is your world I step upon

your footsteps

where I place my feet

(www.faithandworship.com)

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Lord Jesus Christ let your words flow into my soul,

Let them nourish me,

Let them grow within me,

Let their truths rise up within me,

Let them give me life.

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Let this moment settle in my heart,

Let all that it holds rest secure in the love of God,

Let the wonder of the holy One

radiate from the centre of my being,

Until the reality of Christ’s inner presence

Spills out into the world around me.

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Bonnie Harr - Aspen Praise

Bonnie Harr – Aspen Praise

Prayers for the Journey

Moon over Corvallis

Blue moon rising

The end of another beautiful week here in Seattle – 47 days without any rain, possibly setting a record. Not good for the farmers or for the wildfires, but some of us are enjoying it which probably accounts for how upbeat my prayers are this week. Enjoy and if you want to check out the photo prayers that I am adding now don’t forget to like the facebook page

May we be still in your presence O Lord,

And wait patiently for you to act.

May we delight in you O Lord,

And trust in you to help us.

May we commit our day to you O Lord,

And hold onto your faithful promises.

(Adapted from Psalm 37:3-7)

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Show us the right path, O Lord;

point out the road for us to follow.

Lead us by your truth and teach us,

for you are the God who saves us.

All day long we put our hope in you.

(Adapted from Psalm 25:4,5)

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Lord Jesus Christ your yoke is easy, you burden is light.

Help us to lay down what we should not carry.

Help us to let go what we should share.

May we find the joy of always walking yoked with you.

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Drink in the water of life,

Let it quench your thirsty soul.

Feed on the bread of heaven,

Let it nourish your starving spirit.

Be filled with the life of Christ,

Let him sustain and keep you

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“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

 

John Wesley

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This prayer was written while thinking about the Wild Goose Festival this weekend. The Wild Goose is the Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit. The photo is of Canada geese.

May the spirit soar within you and take flight

May it guide you through the day and lead you through the night

May it shine for all to see and give you light.

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Top Ten Mediation Tips from Micha Jazz At Peaceworks.

group hug

Making peace with Micha Jazz and other members of the MSA international circle

Tom and I have just returned from a 5 day whirlwind trip to the East Coast working with Mennonites at Laurelville Mennonite Center, Renewal and Creation Care Study Program. I am still a little jetlagged as we arrived home at 1 am so I was delighted to discover a link to this great article on mediation written by our good friend Micha Jazz (aka Mike Morris) at Peaceworks. Conflict between people is a huge challenge for most Christian organizations contributed to by the continual stress that we work under. Also probably because we have just been working with people from a peace church perspective, I thought that this would make a great post for this morning. It was originally posted as Ten Top Mediation Tips on Peaceworks blog.

Micha has been be a part of the international circle of MSA for more years than we care to mention. He is also one of the founders together with Chris Seaton, of Peaceworks. Micha is an experienced CEDR accredited mediator (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution), an accredited workplace mediator, and a Recognised Member of the College of Mediators.

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Peaceworks’ Ten Top Mediation Tips 

1.      Always plan to have difficult conversations. Mediation provides a safe, confidential environment with adequate refreshments, to help everyone achieve their best.

2.      Take time ahead of the mediation to find the words to describe what you feel, why you feel the way you do and what you would like as an outcome. Your feelings and preferences are important and everyone wants to listen and discover what they are. You might feel upset, angry, disappointed, confused – mediation offers you the chance to say that, and to state what you want.

3.      Picture your future. How you would like things to be in 6 months time. This helps to see that there is a future beyond the mediation. The pain does not need to last forever. What will the next six months be like if there is no change? This mediation is important!

4.      As you consider what you want and what the future might look like, remember to be realistic. Mediations work best when everyone agrees a realistic, achievable and measurable agreement. Things will certainly feel and look a lot different if a clear agreement is achieved. So take time to build that agreement in the mediation. Do not rush.

5.      As far as you can, be very specific about issues and deal with each of them in turn. Once issues are clearly identified, there is a means for effectively and creatively dealing with the conflict.

6.      Work with the mediator to create a climate in which matters can be agreed and deals can be done; this may involve ‘turning the other cheek’ and ‘biting your lip’. Later, you will be glad you did.

7.      If there are difficulties be honest about them. There is ample opportunity to have a private meeting with the mediator and talk through your anxieties freely and confidentially. The mediator is there to support you throughout do your best.

8.      If you need to resolve financial issues, be sure you have details of the numbers involved and any paperwork that support your verbal claims. Confusion over data will always produce confusion within the process. If numbers intimidate you, request some help ahead of the mediation.

9.      Do not rely on ‘bar room’ advice as to what you ‘should’ walk away with! However well meant, it is likely to be unhelpful, and does not enjoy the benefit of the other party’s feelings and requests. What they say may have a positive impact on you. Remember, this is your dispute and you have the power to resolve it.

10.   Respect and be kind to yourself throughout. This is a mature and creative way to deal with conflict, and one that is increasingly promoted by the legal profession, HR departments, commercial companies etc. worldwide. You are at the cutting edge of the new way to deal with conflict effectively. How smart is that?

Welcome all Doubters – By Coe Hutchison

Last week I posted this video on Faith means Doubt.  Coe Hutchison chair of the MSA Board and pastor at Grace Lutheran in Port Townsend WA responded witha comment I thought was so good I asked him to make it into a post as we all struggle with the realities of life and the doubts that assail us.  Each time we grapple with doubts our faith is stretched, renewed and hopefully revitalized.

In the Gospel message for last Sunday, June 19 (Matt. 28:16-20), we read that even after following Jesus for years some of the disciples experienced doubt. And the Gospel’s author decided that it was important to point this out in the very last words of his Gospel. We might expect Matthew to paint a picture of the sure-hearted disciples rejoicing at meeting the resurrected Jesus and going forth into the world with confidence. Instead we read that some DOUBTED! Thanks be to God for Matthew’s honest and accurate testimony to real life. And yet in the face of doubt and questions and faint-heartedness, Jesus declares his reassuring presence with us to the end of the age.

I have often thought that it would be good to have signs on our churches that say, “Doubters Welcome Here!” There is no better place for us to bring our doubts than to the place where Jesus meets us.

Frederick Buechner writes, “Faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession. . . Faith is not being sure where you’re going, but going anyway. . . . Tillich said, that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, 30)

Thomas Merton, as Christine noted, was a wonderful encourager of the doubting faithful. Here is my favorite quote from Merton that I have carried with me for years. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976)

May God continue to bless the doubting faithful!

Light for the Journey Prayers – Enter into the Easter Season

Cross of the Millennium by Fredrick Hart

I continue to add prayers to the Light for the Journey facebook page each morning.  Writing these prayers is, I have found, a great way to sit and meditate each morning.  It is obvious that many of you find them valuable too.   It is a few weeks since I last posted these however so this morning’s prayers cover part of Holy week as well as the beginning of the Easter season.  Also if anyone knows who this image was created by I would like to find out.  I have hunted on the internet but have been unable to find it and I hate not being able to acknowledge something as beautiful as this. (P.S.  Big thanks to Laurie for the information about the photo

The following prayer is adapted from Psalm 85

God may I live in the place where truth and justice meet

May I dwell where righteousness and peace kiss

May I see where truth springs up from the earth

And watch for where righteousness smiles does from heaven

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God may I sit in the place where you draw close,

May I find comfort in the tenderness of your embrace,

And rest content in the wonder of your love,

May I find peace in the certainty of your presence,

And never let go of the eternal and loving One who never lets go of me.

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We are immersed in the love of God

Surrounded by the truth of God

Held in the care of God

What can separate us from the One who created us?

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God I thank you for lessons from the garden

No rock is too hard for you to penetrate

Nothing too damaged for you to transform

From the death of decay comes beauty and joy

May we walk and dance each day in the joy and hope of the resurrection

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God surround us with the true light of your presence

Protect us with your shield of love

Make us holy through your truth

Make your ways plain for us to follow

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God build between us a community of love

May we live as you would live in unity and mutual care

May we help strangers become neighbours

May we see your kingdom now

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This prayer was inspired by my participation in the Inhabit conference

God may we practice your presence in the place you have planted us

May we extend your love to neighbours near and far

May we embrace others with your compassion

And live by your law of love

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God may we see today with your eyes of love

May we respond with Christ’s heart of compassion

May we bring the spirit’s healing wherever we go

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Thinking of those impacted by the tornadoes this morning:

Lord have mercy on all who suffer

Christ have mercy on those who have lost family and friends

Lord have mercy on those who seek to help

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Breathe on me breath of God

May your living presence guide me

Breathe in me breath of God

May love of neighbour fill me

Breathe through me breath of God

May we live by your kingdom ways

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Christ is risen, resurrection has begun

As we watch for the first sprouts of new creation

We remember God’s resurrection promise

A new world is breaking into ours with abundance and wholeness

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Christ is risen and has given us life

May we see with God’s eyes of love

May we respond with Christ’s heart of compassion

May we be transformed by the Spirit from the inside out

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Hallelujah, Christ is risen

You who are the gardener of the new creation,

Cultivate the new seeds that have sprung into life,

Bring growth, bring blossom, bring fruit,

May your new creation flourish in us, through us around us,

So that all the world may say Christ is risen indeed Hallelujah.

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Jesus our hope lies not in your death but in your resurrection,

Not in your dying but in your rising again,

Today we wait in hope between times, we wait for your promise,

Death is conquered, resurrection has begun.

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Today we walk with Christ in the dark shadow of the Cross

Knowing we have weighed him down, our burdens crush his shoulders

His suffering is for us, and for us he willingly endured death

Praise God who did not abandon us

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God may we wash feet today and remember the Christ who washes us

God may we break bread today and remember the Christ broken for us

God may we drink the cup today and remember the Christ poured out for us

May we remember the Christ whose great love gives life where we deserve death

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God may we remember today that resurrection is always preceded by death and crucifixion

God in the depths of death and despair may we hold close to the one who died and rose again for us

God in the shadow of the Cross may we see your resurrection light

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God as we walk through Holy week may we remember

Beyond sin there is love inexhaustible

Beyond death there is life unimaginable

Beyond brokenness there is forgiveness incomprehensible

Beyond betrayal there is grace poured out eternally

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God we are deaf, but you unstop our ears,

To hear the power of your resurrection story,

Once we were dead but now in Christ we are alive.

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God we are blind but you open our eyes,

To see your glory revealed through your Son Jesus Christ

Who died and rose again to lead us into life

April Synchroblog – Some Great Posts

Yesterday I wrote a post on Palm Sunday as part of a Synchroblog entitled Do You Live Under A Rock. Here is a list of all the entries so far.

Phil Wyman at Square No More –  Apocalyptic fervor spurs benevolent giving

Marta Layton at Marta’s Mathoms – Getting Out From Behind The Rock

Mike Victorino at  Simply A Night Owl – Crawling Out From Under A Rock

John Paul Todd at E4Unity – Still Asleep In the Light

Patrick Oden at Ravens – A Resurrection

Brambonius at Brambonius’ blog in english – hiding the Resurrection life like a candle under a bucket?

George Elerick at The Love Revolution – (for)getting the resurrection

Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – I Will Answer That Question In A Minute, But First, I Want To Talk About Jesus

Jeff Goins at Jeff Goins Writer – Resurrection

Tammy Carter at Blessing the Beloved – Rock and a Hard Place

Kathy Escobar at the carnival in my head – little miracles

Christen Hansel at Greener Grass – Resurrection Rhythm

Alan Knox at the assembling of the church – Living The Resurrected Life

Christine Sine at Godspace – Palm Sunday Is Coming But What Does It Mean