Breathing In God’s Love
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”—Matthew 22:37-39 (MSG)
Praying the “I love you” prayer has countless blessings. By practicing Jesus’ first and second commandments as quoted above, we learn to love ourselves and others in a new way.Most of us did not experience unconditional love in childhood and it is hard to know what healthy love feels like. How can we love others if we don’t love ourselves?
This prayer will help you feel God’s unconditional love, which accepts you exactly as you are this moment. It is particularly helpful when you feel unloved and are plagued by low self-esteem. Repeating and hearing “I love you” throughout the day will increase your self-esteem and lower the anxiety level in your life. If you experience the world through love, you will discover a world of love. Another way to pray this prayer is to simply hear God say, “I am love” or say to yourself “I am loved” in the spirit of knowing that, “God is love” (1 John 4:8 NIV). Take a few minutes and think of the people who love you and feel how much you are loved. “God refuses to be known; God can only be loved.”—St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)
- Be aware of your breathing and breathe slowly and gently… God’s love is within you.
- As you breathe in, hear God say, “I love you… (your name)” and feel God’s love for you.
- As you breathe out, pray “I love you” to God.
- Practice this prayer for a few minutes and gently guide yourself back to God’s love when your thoughts stray away to other topics or self-doubt.
- Continue to pray this prayer during the day, feeling the truth of God’s love for you.
- Feel God’s unconditional love today, so everyone you meet will be blessed by God’s love through you.
Prayer: I love you. Amen.
Breathing In God Deeply
“I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live.” Ezekiel 37:14 (MSG)
In many translations of the Bible, the above quote is also translated as “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live,” because the words “breath” and “spirit” are one word in Hebrew (ruah) and Greek (pneuma). After Jesus had died on the cross, he appeared to his disciples, wished them peace, showed them his hands and side, took a deep breath and breathed into his disciples, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22 MSG). Take a moment and feel the miracle of this process: we not only replenish our earthly bodies with life-giving oxygen when we breathe, but we receive the Spirit of God. That doesn’t mean anything less than God living in us! Does that also mean the deeper we breathe, the more we breathe in God? This prayer can also be modified by changing the words “Breathing in God deeply” to “Breathing in love deeply,” “Breathing in peace deeply,” or “Breathing in…deeply” (what you need at this time in your life).
“By your very breathing you are praying, participating in God’s grace.”—Richard Rohr
- Breathe gently and guide your awareness to your stomach area… Put your right hand on your stomach and your left hand on your chest…
- Breathe in on the count of four… On the count of one and two feel your stomach rise… On the count of three and four feel your chest rise… It is one continuous breath in.
- Breathe out on the count of four… On the count of one, two feel your chest relax… On the count of three, four feel your stomach relax… It is one continuous breath out.
- When you are familiar with the deeper breath, pray “Breathing in” (one, two) “God deeply” (three, four)… “Breathing out” (one, two) “completely” (three, four)… “Breathing in God deeply” (breathing in)…“Breathing out completely” (breathing out).
- Sit with your eyes lowered or closed for a few moments and become aware of your body. How do you feel?
- Remember to pause often during the day and let deep, conscious breathing be your prayer today.
Prayer: Breathe Your life into me, God. Amen.
Breathe, Listen, Watch
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”—Genesis 28:16(NIV)
None of us wants to feel the way Jacob felt, but like Jacob, we are often not aware of God’s presence. Our thoughts dwell in the past and in the future instead of in the present moment. Staying in the present moment is one of the most difficult things for us adults to do, although we knew how to be present as children. Let’s tap into this knowledge and become present again. Notice that there is a power other than your thoughts that can change your awareness from your thoughts to your senses. This is your physical connection to God within you. Whenever you feel disconnected from your life and God, turn to this prayer with an attitude of worship and the assurance that God is right here with you. And as God promised Jacob, God also promises us: “Yes. I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.”—Genesis 28:15 (MSG)
- Breathe gently and simply observe your breathing… No need to control your breath… Breathe in God’s presence and breath…
- When your mind strays away, listen to what you hear… Simply listen without attaching a meaning to the sound…
- When your mind wanders again, guide your awareness to your surroundings… Simply watch…
- Alternate between observing your breathing, listening, and being aware of your surroundings when your thoughts take you away from the present moment… Pray this way until you are present and calm…
- Can you feel the power within that guides your awareness? How does it feel?
- When you pray this way during the day, become present to God’s guidance and promise in your life.
Prayer: I am aware of God’s presence. Amen.
A safe place in God
God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.—Psalm 46:1(MSG)
Experiencing God as a safe place in our lives is what many of us need in this hectic and ever-changing world. There are so many demands placed upon us that we often don’t know which way to turn first or which task to check off the to-do list next. We are so caught up in our life situations that we hardly see the big picture anymore. God has a place for us to come to at any time we need it! The NIV translation of this verse of Psalm 46 is “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Once we have accepted that we are safe in God, we will also feel this way with other people. When we pray from our safe place in God, we will develop the capacity to feel safe in all circumstances of life and know that true safety is not the absence of danger but the presence of God. Although you are going within for a short period to “hide in God’s safe place,” during this prayer, it will heighten your awareness of safety and presence in the now. The withdrawal will help you to live more deeply and without fear in the present moment, because you will bring back the feeling of peace and safety to your present life situation. You can always withdraw to your safe place to pray because it is a place that is conducive to prayer. “But I have learned to feel safe and satisfied, just like a young child on its mother’s lap.”—Psalm 131:2(CEV)
- Breathe slowly and let your thoughts wander to a place where you feel safe… Take your time and let an image of safety emerge from deep within… It might be a place in nature, in a house, on a boat or in a car… The place could be real or imagined… Are you alone or with loved ones?
- Take your time and visualize the place in detail… What kind of light is in your safe place?… How is the temperature?… What do you hear?… What do you see?… What do you smell?… Visualize every detail of your safe place… How are you feeling?… Breathe gently and stay in your safe place for as long as you need…
- Continue to breathe calmly and go back and forth between your present place and your safe place… Every time you go back and forth, you will bring the feeling of safety with you into the present moment… Keep the feeling of safety alive within you…
- Gently rest in your breathing and know your safe place is within, and you can access it at any time… God’s loving presence and protection is always with you.
Prayer: God is a safe place. Amen.