Active Prayer: a powerful little practice

A practice that I was introduced to years ago, that I have been revisiting lately, has been a prayer practice called “Active Prayer,” or another way that I’ve heard it referred to has been called “Breath Prayer.” It’s pretty simple: an active or breath prayer is a 6-12 word prayer that you pray throughout the day (usually inside yourself), and is short enough that you can pray it in the length of a breath. The active prayer is a way that many throughout history have put the following scriptures into practice:

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall always be in my mouth.” – Psalm 34:1

“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

A traditional active prayer is what has been called the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner” –  or simplified even more, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.” Whether the Jesus prayer or another prayer that you feel the Lord leads you to pray, the active prayer is a prayer of intention that I’ve experienced has a way of leading to attention (experiencing the Lord’s presence throughout the day), and it is so powerful. Just a simple little phrase can lead to our hearts becoming open and present to God, and experiencing transformation in our lives. It’s like a seed, that though it is so small, when planted and nurtured, it brings forth fruit. As I’ve been reintegrating this back into my life, there are a few things that I’ve been experiencing as gifts.

Rewriting old commentaries

One gift that I’ve received through active prayer has been the way that it acts on a subconscious level to rewrite the voices or commentaries that contribute to false narratives in my life. For instance, a prayer that I’ve used since my early twenties has been:

Father, I receive Your passionate/extravagant love.

When voices of my False Self kick up saying things like,”Your opinion doesn’t matter,” or “You don’t matter,” this prayer has rewired not only my brain, but also my heart to recognize what matters: that I am loved beyond comprehension, beyond my own reach, beyond myself (what I do or don’t do), and through the rubble of a chaotic society, the only opinion in the universe that really matters, is always inviting me to experience Him more. I have found myself receiving a wild, untamed, unfathomable love throughout the day, and very often, it fuels me through days of lack of sleep, anxieties, stresses, and lack of coffee. 🙂

Grace to go into uncharted territories

Sometimes I’ve found that for a season of life the Lord may lay a prayer on my heart to utilize as an active prayer. For instance, for the past few years, a prayer that I’ve been using often is a phrase inspired by and pulled from the Franciscan Prayer of Peace: “Make us instruments of Your peace.” I pray it often when at home, for my family, as the Lord is teaching me how to be a husband and a father.

Praxis

Pray for a prayer

Take some time in solitude and silence, and ask the Lord for a phrase to integrate into your life as an active/breath prayer. Again, it isn’t long, it is just a short, easy to remember prayer that you can pray multiple times throughout the day. Here are some more examples:

“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”

“Come Holy Spirit.”

“My God and my all.”

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”

“Lord, I long for more of You.”

Practice and make it a part of your day

Start practicing your active/breath prayer. Spend some time with your prayer phrase, first in quiet, then throughout the day.

  • In quiet: Spend time with the phrase. Ponder it’s meaning and say the words, practice its rhythm.
  • Throughout the day: Whether driving in the car, in moments of silence, on lunch break, or in between meetings, pray your simple phrase. I’ve found that the more I do active prayer, the easier this prayer rises up in me when I’m in even the most challenging situations.

Bless you, as you pray.

 

 

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