The Spiritual Rhythms Challenge: Breath Prayer

Over the next few weeks, Lauren Hansen, a Young Adults leader from Chicago, shares with us how her students are building sustainable spiritual rhythms in this season of lockdown. This week, we're hearing from Hannah.

Hello, brave one. I’m so excited you’ve joined our Spiritual Rhythms Challenge! What I love about these spiritual rhythms we’ve selected is that they’re what author Dallas Willard calls Rhythms of Withdrawal. Opposite of rhythms of engagement, rhythms of withdrawal open up space in our heart and mind as we learn to stop doing, stop producing, stop people-pleasing, stop entertaining, and simply just be with God. In some ways we empty ourselves, which in the Kingdom of God is actually the pathway to receiving. 

It's my joy to introduce you today to Hannah. Hannah is one of the most intentional, thoughtful, ambitious and organized girls I know so I knew she’d be up for a new challenge. Hannah selected a spiritual rhythm called breath prayer.

"We combine our heart’s desire with the truest thing we know about God."

Breath prayer is a short phrase or sentence that we can pray with the rhythm of our breathing. Taking the deepest longings we talked about in the last blog, we combine our heart’s desire with the truest thing we know about God. Some examples of breath prayers are “God my healer, heal my heart,” “Lead me, God my shepherd,” and “I trust you, God of peace.” These aren’t just words from the mind – they’re words from the heart. Some people even call these prayers “gut prayers” because they come from a deep place. There is a method to discover your own breath prayer and we’ll show you how to walk through that process at the end of today’s blog. For now, let’s hear from Hannah!

Hannah, why did you decide to choose breath prayer and what prayer did you discover floating to the surface?

"I chose this rhythm because it was a simple way I could incorporate something into my whole day. The breath prayer I chose is “All powerful God, be alive in me.” I was captured by the idea of being alive and accessing the Lord's power and being aware how we have that through the Holy Spirit at all times. The message of the breath prayer was something I wanted to be drawn closer to. God felt like he was "up there" so I'm interested in experiencing how he is close. I’m rewriting the story in my head that God is accessible."

What was the experience like for you?

"Breath prayer is a nice rhythm because at a certain point you’re not thinking about it as much so it comes quick. My mind would be filled with nothing or I'd be transitioning between things and then that prayer would come to mind. There were various times when I was frustrated or overwhelmed and I knew that I was switching into an internal monologue. I stopped that and did my breath prayer instead. I found myself giving people more grace because I had that moment to slow down and to connect with the Lord. It helped “hold every thought captive” and lasso it in like it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5. It’s really nice to incorporate into your life. I’d highly recommend it."

Do you think students would enjoy this spiritual rhythm?

"I do think that this is really well-suited for younger people in that it doesn't add "one more thing" to the to-do list. If you're new to your career or you're a young parent, you're not looking to add one more thing to your to do list but your heart still wants to seek the Lord, so I would highly recommend it. I think it is highly suited for our age range (or any busy age range, too!)"

What advice would you give to a student who is trying breath prayer for the first time?

"I think often we put pressure on ourselves to find the right words, but I'd encourage you to find the right theme, the heart of your prayer rather than focusing on the particular words. My wording changed a little bit throughout the week, but I knew my intention behind the words. This rhythm is so great in that there is no pressure. The purpose is to simply show up. And God meets you in the process."

Next week, Lauren will share another spiritual rhythm, but why not try breath prayers and share your experience with us by tagging


Fusion Team

The vision of Fusion is to champion and catalyse church based student movements that see the student world reached and transformed by the gospel.