The Breath Prayer

By: Sheridan Voysey

One afternoon in March 2020, feeling overwhelmed at the news I was hearing about a virus called Covid-19, I took a moment to do what I often do in times of stress – journal.

During that time I remembered a breath prayer I’d written previously based on some words from the apostle Paul. It came to be called The Breath Prayer and it has since been shared thousands of times, inspiring artwork (like Chris Duffett’s And Breathe above), memes (like Joanne Wilson’s below), and helping people beyond the pandemic.

A breath prayer is a simple, short prayer said in a single breath. It’s very helpful in times of busyness and stress as it can be prayed while working or during a short break.

You pray the first line slowly breathing in

and the second line slowly breathing out

The words I based the prayer on are powerful in moments of stress, because it’s hard to fight fear and have strength to help others through willpower alone. We need to be empowered to be virtuous. And so here’s the gift: Paul says that when we ask, God’s Spirit will fill us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

So find a quiet place, sit still for a moment, then try praying each line breathing in for 3 seconds, then out for 3 seconds. Don’t worry about reading it to begin with. In time you’ll memorise it. Just breathe slowly and focus the words on God.

The Breath Prayer

Valley of windmills
Photo by Appolinary Kalashnikova on Unsplash

Lord God, fill me with your Holy Spirit.

I receive your love,

and release my insecurity

I receive your joy,

and release my unhappiness

I receive your peace,

and release my anxiety

I receive your patience,

and release my impulsiveness

I receive your kindness,

and release my indifference

I receive your goodness,

and release my ungodliness

I receive your faithfulness,

and release my disloyalty

I receive your gentleness,

and release my severity

I receive your self-control,

and release my self-indulgence

illustration of the breath prayer
Thanks to Joanne Wilson of Starfish Designs for turning the Breath Prayer into this!

Coronavirus placed our economic and health systems under unprecedented stress, not to mention many of us personally. Each day brought new concerns for elderly parents, infected friends and neighbours, even our own livelihoods. In testing times, where can we find the inner resources to cope with the inherent anxieties ahead and rise to consider others?

Richard Foster once described holiness as “doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.” It’s an intriguing definition that makes sense in times like these. I wrote this breath prayer to help us do what needed to be done in a time of difficulty.

Article supplied with thanks to Sheridan Voysey.

About the Author: About the Author: Sheridan Voysey is an author and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. His latest book is called Reflect with Sheridan. Download his FREE inspirational printable The Creed here.

Feature image: “And Breathe” by Chris Duffett