Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence, and even of enjoying the Presence. —Richard Rohr
Prayer is not primarily something we are doing to God, something we are giving to God but what God is doing for us. And what God is doing for us is giving the divine Self in love. —Ruth Burrows
Quiet, contemplative prayer happens when we are still and open ourselves to Christ’s Spirit working secretly in us, when we heed the psalmist’s plea: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). These are times when we trustingly sink into God’s formless hands for cleansing, illumination, and communion. —Tilden Edwards
In prayer, we know we’re not being manipulated, we’re not being used, we’re not being judged, we’re not being evaluated. Who wouldn’t want to go there? It’s the place of ultimate freedom. —Richard Rohr
We can imagine God as our intimate friend, with whom we share everything. We can talk to the Divine about our needs, complaints, and difficulties. We can ask for advice, offer thanksgiving, and make acts of faith or reparation for our sins. We can seek guidance for our children, or shed tears about illness and death. —Beverly Lanzetta
Prayer is the longing of the human heart for God. It is a yearning and desire for relationship with God, and it is God’s attention to our desire: God-in-communion with us. —Ilia Delio
Minister Adele Ahlberg Calhoun suggests a form of breath prayer that allows us to bring our heart’s deepest longing into our intimate relationship with God:
Breath prayer reminds us that just as we can’t live on one breath of air, we can’t live on one breath of God. God is the oxygen of our soul, and we need to breathe [God] in all day long. After all, it is in [God] that “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Breath prayer reminds us that each breath we are given is God’s gift and that God’s Spirit is nearer to us than our own breath. . . .
To practice breath prayer, ponder the nearness of God. Settle deeply into the truth that Christ is in you. Deeply breathe in, repeating any name of God that is dear to you. . . . As you exhale, voice a deep desire of your heart. When you exhale, offer up the desire of your heart. The brevity of the prayer allows it to be repeated over and over throughout the day.
Examples of breath prayers are
- breathe in “Abba,” breathe out “I belong to you.”
- breathe in “Healer,” breathe out “speak the word and I shall be healed.”
- breathe in “Shepherd,” breathe out “bring home my lost [ones].”
- breathe in “Holy One,” breathe out “keep me true.”
- breathe in “Lord,” breathe out “here I am.”
- breathe in “Jesus,” breathe out “have mercy on me.”
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 205–206.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on sacred breathing and our True Self in God.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 14 & 21 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States, used with permission. Abel Marquez, Lady Praying, 2020 (detail), photograph, free use. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to core teacher Dr. Barbara Holmes as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. Her photos are featured here together with other images in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Sometimes we don’t have the energy to climb the stairs or jump off the dock. Wherever we are in this moment: in community, in solitude, in joy, in sorrow, with motivation or with great exhaustion… God meets us here.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.