Breath In and Breath Out (Breath Prayers) – Episode 4 – Experimental Christian

To be honest, breath prayers sounded pretty stupid when I first heard about them.  I’m not huge into repetition (hence the reason I experiment with something new every week).  So when I started this experiment, I didn’t think I would find a practice that I would want to incorporate into my life.

What are breath prayers?

Breath prayers are short sentence prayers that can be said in one breath (inhale and exhale) that are repeated.  Some faith traditions use a prayer rope with knots to do the breath prayer a certain number of times (usually 33).

Why would you do breath prayers?

Breath Prayers are done with the hope to have the prayers move from your head and eventually into your heart.

Do it to pursue, not for penance.

It can be real easy to turn breath prayers into a practice where you are trying to pay off a sin that you have committed.  But there is no need for that.  Jesus has already paid for all you sin on the cross if you have put your faith in him.  But breath prayers can be a great way to pursue Jesus.  Using a short prayer to focus on Jesus and you need for him in different areas.

Have a place without distractions.

Breath prayers are not meant to be mindless.  You are supposed to focus on the words are you pray them. You are supposed to focus on your breath.  You are to be in the moment, focusing your mind, spirit, emotions, and body on the prayers.  While you might be able to grow to a point where you can do other things while doing breath prayers, it won’t be easy at first.  I have trouble doing more than one breath prayer before losing focus.

For this reason, it is good to have a place where you can do breath prayers without any distractions…or minimal distractions.

Find the right prayers for you.

The most commonly used breath prayer is what is called the Jesus Prayer.  “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”  There is some controversy behind using this prayer because some see it as asking for penance.  Others see it as a cry for help and desperation.  It is a reminder of your need for Jesus daily.

If you don’t like the Jesus prayer, there are countless other breath prayers that you can try.  Here are a couple of my favorite ones that I’ve come across.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

Philippians 2:3

Jesus, in your humility, let me see others as better than myself.

John 3:30

May you increase and I decrease.

Philippians 1:21

To live is Christ, and to dies is gain.

Isaiah 6:8

Here I am. Send me.

The Beatitudes

Chose any one of Jesus’ statements from Matthew 5:2-12.

Here is a list of some of the more classic breath prayers that I found at this website:

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10)
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23:1)
“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47)
“Teacher, let me see again” (Bartimaeus’ request; Mark 10:51)
“God, have mercy on me a sinner” (Luke 18:13)
“Abba, I belong to you” (cf. Romans 8:15)
“Come, Lord Jesus, come” (The Maranatha Prayer; Revelation 22:20)
“O Lord, come to my assistance; O God make haste to help me”
“My Lord and My God”
“My help is in the name of the Lord”
“Jesus my light and my love”
“Come, Lord Jesus, be my guest”
“I belong to you, O Lord”
“Jesus, let me feel your love” (or power, strength, etc.)
“Lead me, Lord; I will follow”
“Show me your way, Lord Jesus”
“Jesus lead me into joy” (or peace, patience, etc.)

I hope this is helpful for you.  Let us know in the comments below if you do breath prayers.  If so what breath prayers do you find most helpful.



  • Windy

    Another good one is: Psalms 51:11 Create in me a clean heart, oh God, renew a right spirit within me.

  • Daniel Stephens

    Awesome. Thank you for the list too. I’ll be trying a few of these this week.