What is a breath prayer?

Hi friends,

As we’ve gone through the Together devotionals this January, I’ve remembered the power of “breath prayers” - which might be unfamiliar to you.

A breath prayer is a prayer you can pray in the time it takes to pray.

Here are some example breath prayers:

  • God, I love you!
  • Jesus, I need you.
  • Spirit, give me wisdom.
  • Father, help me.
  • Jesus, show me how to love.

How do you find a “good” breath prayer? It’s as simple (and as hard) as being aware of what is going on in your heart.

A breath prayer is a spontaneous, honest way to share whatever is in your heart with God.

It’s a means to experience that God sees you, cares for you, and is involved in your life.

I regret to share there’s no special power or unique blessings to a breath prayer. There’s no way to use this form of prayer to control God or get everything we want.

But the good news is that a breath prayer is like any other prayer: a way of experiencing God’s presence and love.

Do you pray breath prayers?

If so, what are common ways you cry out to God during the day?


Hi @Carson,
I’ve never heard the term “Breath Prayer” until now, though I’ve been SAYING them for the past 25+/- years, lol.

I usually use this method of praying when I can’t close my eyes - driving mostly, though also when cooking/ doing dishes/cleaning/or (most especially) when I’m getting frustrated with my husband.

My typical form of breath prayer runs along the lines of “please don’t let that person [accident on the road] have been seriously injured”, “please let me speak to him/her with the love You have for them”, or “please show me how to show them grace”, but I’ll also make requests like “help me to be more faithful”, “more of the kind of person You want me to be”, “more forgiving”, “help me to love the ‘unlovable’ in a way that only comes from You”, etc.

It’s a rarity for me to make a personal request when I pray these types of prayer, though I’ll occasionally ask for relief of pain (I have multiple medical problems and most of them involve pain in 1 way or another). Most of the time, I leave my own issues out of my prayer life altogether… yes, I’ve been spoken to about that MANY times by well-meaning friends who tell me that God “doesn’t want me to be in pain” or have illness or whatever, but I just feel like He has way more important things to deal with than my pain. This whole messed up world needs saving, there’s homelessness, joblessness, disease, people starving, people in jail or prison, wars all over the place, and on and on; who am I to complain about some pain?

Oops, sorry, that was a rabbit trail, but you get the gist. Anyway, I pray what’s in my heart at the time. I figure everyone I meet or speak with (or see around me) needs prayer - we ALL need prayer, right? So a lot of the time, I’ll pray just a breath of prayer (I love that phrase) for whomever I’m speaking to while I’m talking, or for the homeless guy on the corner as I dig out a few dollars, or the cashier as she deals with the guy in front of me who is giving her heck - and for him as well because he’s got something going on that’s causing his anger or rudeness!

Thanks, Carson, for this great topic. I always learn something new or a new way of looking at things when I’m on this site. Thank you!

God’s blessings to you and every subscriber visiting. May the peace of Christ be with you.



If breath prayer is just that, then I have certainly prayed breath prayers many a times but did not call them so. When feeling grateful I may say, Thank you for your steadfast love O God, Thank you for your faithfulness O God, and when feeling anxious, I may say, I cast my burdens on you Lord Jesus, please take care of this situation/people, Please go before me Holy Spirit, when feeling guilt, please forgive me Lord Jesus for a specific word/thought/deed and so on. Remembering God many times a day helps maintain God’s perspective throughout the day, helps walk in greater obedience and thus brings inner peace.

However, there is another way breath prayer is practiced and taught. An article entitled How Breath Prayers Helped Me ‘Pray Continually’ in Christianity Today, July 2023 states -

Breath prayers are short prayers that coincide with inhaling and exhaling. They originate from the “Jesus Prayer” practiced by the Eastern Orthodox Church beginning as early as the third and fourth centuries by Egyptian desert monks. The most well-known Jesus Prayer was inspired by Mark 10:47: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

In the 13th century, Nicephorus the Hesychast connected this form of prayer to breathing. The publication of Philokalia (1782), a collection of Greek Christian monastic texts, and The Way of a Pilgrim (1884)—a story of a pilgrim who was practicing the Jesus Prayer—helped the practice gain wider exposure.

The method Nicepheros created to connect prayer and breathing in greater detail based on a Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica article is below:

St. Nicephorus the Hesychast (13th century), a Roman Catholic who converted to the Eastern Orthodox faith and became a monk at Mount Athos, advised monks to bend their heads toward the chest, “attach the prayer to their breathing” while controlling the rhythm of their breath, and “to fix their eyes during prayer on the ‘middle of the body’,” concentrating the mind within the heart in order to practice nepsis (watchfulness)

The wiki article mentions three stages in hesychast practice, namely purification, illumination and deification. Below is a description of deification -

The hesychast usually experiences the contemplation of God as light, the “uncreated light” of the theology of St. Gregory Palamas…The uncreated light that the hesychast experiences is identified with the Holy Spirit. Experiences of the uncreated light are allied to the ‘acquisition of the Holy Spirit’.

At this point, I thought this psychosomatic practice of breath prayer is quite removed from the Bible though well-intentioned and has more in common with eastern meditative practices. Because the means of obtaining godliness in the Bible are rooted in the hope we have in the historical finished work of Christ on the cross. Training our body has little value in godliness. (1 Tim 4: 7-10)

As for me when it comes to breath prayers, I would be comfortable with short quick prayers through the day but would never practice it as originally described.