It’s the end of a long day. I struggle to take off my shoes. My shoulders sag. I want to forget about everything. The temptation is to find a movie, grab some chocolates, and crash in front of the television.
However, the American Institute on Stress says this type of activity does not help.
Instead, they recommend to effectively combat stress and improve overall wellness, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. This is done through simply breathing! Focused, deep breathing for 20-30 minutes a day reduces anxiety and its effects.
Now when you’re freaking out, and someone says tells you to take a deep breath. it makes sense. It really can help.
Deep breathing stimulates part of the nervous system which promotes a state of calmness. Doctors are using it to treat stress-related illnesses.
Isn’t it amazing how God has built into our bodily system a way to relieve the physical and emotional aspects of stress?
Breathing cannot be separated from the spiritual side of life, either.
When we look in the Bible we see that spiritual and physical breath mingle together.
Right back at the beginning of the world, God, who is Spirit, breathed on Adam to give him physical life. The spiritual breath of God led Adam to inhale and exhale his first physical breath.
Later on Job explains this as:
The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4, NIV
It’s hard to distinguish if Job is talking about his physical life, or spiritual life—I think it’s probably both.
God also gives us physical and spiritual life through his breath.
Jesus modeled it. He used his physical breath to give spiritual breath — the Holy Spirit — to his followers.
So, if physical breath cannot be separated from spiritual life then let’s combine the stress-relieving breathing, as suggested by the American Institute– that physical inbuilt system God has given us—with the spiritual practice of prayer to improve our overall wellbeing.
How do we put this into practice?
One way is to use your physical breath and God’s Word—the breath of life—together.
Breath Prayer is an ancient Christian practice used for centuries. The most famous breath prayer is called The Jesus Prayer.
In breath prayer you take a phrase from scripture and repeat it as you breathe in and out.
Take the phrase at the beginning of Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd and make it a prayer.
It works like this:
As you breathe in say: The Lord, and as your breathe out say: is my Shepherd. Repeat this with each breath.
Let the phrase remind you of the comforts and security that God promises in the remainder of the psalm—you don’t lack anything, you can rest and not lose sleep. He will give you refreshment. He will guide you. Even though your world seems dark, you have nothing to fear. God is with you and he will give you comfort.
Instead of zoning out in from of the television, breathe deeply and pray.
Do you have a favorite Psalm? Turn a phrase from this Psalm into a breath prayer.
Use the breath prayer above, or one of your own, to breath God’s Spirit and life into your stressful situation.
How did your time with the Lord in prayer change how you felt? What phrase did you use for your breath prayer?
Linking up with Crystal Storms at #HeartEncouragement, Arabah Joy at #GraceandTruth and Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus
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Yes, I’m learning this.
For years, the church de-emphasized the body in its teaching, but God “made our frame and remembers that we are dust.” The way we use our bodies can enhance our prayer life and our communion with God. Thanks, Rachel, for this truth today.
Thanks Michele, for your wise and valued perspective.
Great tips here Rachel-I do a similar practice with prayer and breathing. It calms my fears and worries as I give them to God. Love this series!
Rachel, this is fabulous. So many people worry about new age and yoga and that’s not it at all. I like the idea of a breath prayer, I had never heard that before. But isn’t pneuma, breath and spirit anyway. Why wouldn’t you want to breath the Holy Spirit, the breeze from heaven. I was doing a challenge with Bonnie Gray, her first word, breathe. I recently realized that at times in my life I had been so tire and stresses of had so much back pain that I wasn’t breathing, I would have to think to, like I was holding my breath at night. I’m 55, but this was in my 30’s. I so thank God not to be carrying around oxygen or something or wearing a c pap mask. I would recommend anyone but especially believers to try this. It is a great exercise for singers and praisers too. The number 37 came to mind as I was breathing one day, the significance, I wondered about. But thirty is usually associate with ministry, when Jesus started His and 7 is perfection. Thanks, always love to talk to you.
So good that you have learned to breathe to relieve your physical issues and to breathe in God’s Holy Spirit. Breathing helps us to focus on God too and then we can hear more from him. Isn’t that what we want – to hear from him and be filled with him? I know your answer is Yes. You are right, Rebecca. A lot of people worry too much.
What a great new way for me to memorize scripture….by breathing it in and out. Can’t wait to start it!
Let me know how you get on, Cheri.
I love your comparisons between the physical and the spiritual. It truly is incredible how God made our bodies and how He ties things together in His Word so we can better understand. Blessings!
Thank you, Donna.