BREATH PRAYERS and Rick Warren

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by Larry DeBruyn 
Are “breath prayers” a method by which we can become best friends with God?

To direct people on a spiritual journey for 40 days, Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life. The bestselling book has impacted millions of persons. Some of Pastor Warren’s purpose involves his recommendations for “Becoming Best Friends with God.” The author shares six secrets to become God’s friends, one of which is practicing God’s presence by being in “constant conversation” with him. After quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (“pray without ceasing”), Warren asks how a Christian can practice unceasing prayer to which he answers, “One way is to use ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated in one breath.” Then after providing ten examples of prayers, short biblical phrases that could work as breath prayers, Warren advises “Pray it as often as possible so it is rooted deep in your heart.”[1] In this context Warren also cites the book of Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, who advocated experiencing the presence of God in the most menial of circumstances, by praying short conversational prayers throughout the day. The Roman Catholic practice of praying the rosary is also akin to breath prayers.

Though breath praying is not found in the Bible, advocates of the practice recommend repeating a short phrase, the phrase can be biblical, in prayer throughout the day. For example, in the parable of The Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus portrayed a tax collector who in repentance and humility, cried out, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'” Out of this The Desert Fathers, a monastic group in Egypt during 3rd and 4th centuries, created the “Kyrie Eleison” (“Lord have mercy.”) prayer which later became known as the “Jesus Prayer.” The prayer became a favorite of these fathers who later expanded it to be, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Click here to read this entire article.