Breathing Prayer: Devotions for Anxiety

Photo Credit: Life Mental Health

Photo Credit: Life Mental Health

When anxiety’s got you in its grip, it’s hard to avoid worrying. But there’s a technique that can help. I call it “breathing prayer.”

By Julia Attaway, New York, New York

Can we talk anxiety? You know what I mean: that roiling inner whirlwind, the blinding, gut-wrenching, confusion-making state of being that takes over our hearts and minds from time to time.

When anxiety’s got you in its grip, it’s hard to avoid worrying about tomorrow. It’s difficult to adopt a Jeremiah 29:11 attitude. Sometimes it seems all we can do is shove our fears heavenward and hope God takes them away. I think there’s a better way.

Anxiety works on a very primitive level. It has a physical component which we can counteract by applying a physical remedy. Several years ago I learned that there’s actually a right way to breathe to reduce anxiety and stress. The Harvard Health Blog calls it breath control. The technique has certain similarities with prayerful meditation, and since it’s completely compatible with faith, I personally call it “breathing prayer.”

Try this: Close your eyes and inhale slowly, imagining pulling the Spirit in so fully that it fills every pore of your body. Make sure your stomach expands; you want to be pregnant with peace. Exhale slowly through your nose.

You can pray while you do this (though if you’re anxious when you start, you probably won’t think of it until after a few breaths, when your head starts to clear). Simple prayers work best:

While inhaling

While exhaling

Come Holy Spirit…

fill my heart

Lord Jesus…    

grant me your peace

Lord Jesus…         

I love you

If you practice when you’re not in the throes of wild anxiety, it will be easier to pray this way when you are. But “breathing prayer” is a good addition to any regular prayer time. Anything that clears the head and calms the body frees us up to hear God better. And that’s what prayer is all about.

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21 thoughts on “Breathing Prayer: Devotions for Anxiety

  1. Congrats on your 22nd anniversary Coach. Many more beautiful years together…
    I just started following your blog a short while ago but i must say I look forward to the stories you bring.. God bless you…and your family!!!

    Like

  2. This prayer, along with the reminder on what Psalm 23 means when broken down verse by verse was extremely helpful and I sent this post above to my friend who I know will also find the anxiety prayer helpful. 🙂 And by the way, thank you for stopping by my blog.

    Like

  3. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    This is really good, Diana.

    I experienced anxiety a while back (before my attempted suicide). It was absolute horror. Really good post.

    Like

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