In the beginning, the wind moved upon the face of the water (Gen 1:2). In the beginning, the Creator breathed the spirit of life into the clay. (Gen 2:7) In the beginning, the same spirit brooded upon creation as a hen gathers her chicks. The psalmist says the Creator soars on the wings of the wind (Ps 18:10).
The Master taught, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8). In his last days, the Master breathed upon his disciples that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:22).
The wind is a reminder that the Creator, though unseen, surrounds us. Our breath is a cousin to the wind. Our breath is a reminder of that first breath, when we were filled with the spirit of life. It is a reminder of how the Spirit continually renews us. Ideally, each breath should be a prayer of thanksgiving.
One day, a pilgrim heard the reading from Thessalonians: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17). He heard this as a personal message from the Creator. He sought all over the country for one who could teach him this method of prayer. Finally, he found a master who taught him a method to pray without ceasing, so his prayer would be as close and constant as his breath.
This method is called breath prayer.
I will now teach you a simple prayer form using your breath. Create a quiet space; that is, no TV, radio, or MP3 player. Sit with your back straight and both feet on the ground. Inhale through your nostrils, drawing the breath as deep into your gut as possible. Purse your lips as if to blow through a straw and exhale slowly. Do this three times. Be sure to focus on your breathing; ignore all fleeting thoughts.
This method is called “straw prayer”. Once you feel comfortable with it, you can also apply it when you're stuck in traffic, and even when you're waiting in line.
Breath deep, and soar on the wings of the wind.
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship - on Breath Prayer
- The Way of a Pilgrim and A Pilgrim Continues His Way, trans. R.M. French, Hope Publishing, 1989
- The Breath of Life: Discovering Your Breath Prayer, Ron DelBene, Harper & Row, 1981
- The Breath of Life: A Simple Way to Pray in PDF format
- Dharma Road: A Short Cab Ride to Self Discovery, Brian Haycock, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 2010
- Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements, Christine Valters Painter, Sorin Books, 2010.
The above was written for a presentation on the Four Elements.