I keep waiting for life to calm down, but it never does. I think I could walk peacefully with Jesus if I didn’t have both paid and volunteer work to do, errands to run, a husband, two young adult kids, and a dog.
When Jesus said, “Abide in me,” and Paul said, “Pray continually,” I don’t think they envisioned we’d sit around doing nothing all day, but I’m not sure how to reconcile an active life with praying continually and abiding in the peace of Christ.
I can manage to have a short quiet time most days, but when I’m done, I usually jump up and race through the day. I’m like a horse charging out of the starting gate that just keeps running until the finish line. My finish line comes when I fall into bed at the end of the day.
I need a way to pray when I’m busy.
Although I often go into auto-pilot during my quiet time and need ways to keep it fresh, sitting down a few minutes to read Scripture and pray is relatively easy. The greater challenge is walking with Jesus throughout the day.
How does continual prayer work when life is busy?
I need a way to pray when my thoughts are scattered.
It helps to remember that prayer is more than words we say to God, prayer is an attitude in our hearts towards Him. In her wonderful book, Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton gives us this definition of prayer: “All the ways we communicate and commune with God.”
More than just saying words to get what we want from God, prayer is turning our hearts to Him. Even on a busy day, greater peace results from that turning.
Recently, I wrote about praying simple prayers based on Scripture. Breath prayer offers us another way to pray simply and abide in Jesus.
What is a breath prayer?
A breath prayer is a short prayer you can say in the amount of time it takes to breathe in and out. Even on a busy day, it’s possible to pause briefly, turn our hearts to God in the moment, and remember He’s present with us. A breath prayer gives us a way to pray continually even when we feel rushed or stressed because it’s easy to remember.
The most well-known breath prayer is the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
If you’d like to try this way to pray briefly, I’d suggest you start first with the Jesus prayer. Practice praying it throughout the day. You might have to be intentional about practicing it until it comes as a natural response to different situations. Pray it before you start a new task, when you need help, or when your baby is crying. Pray it when you need a moment to remember God’s presence and receive His peace: “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
How to Write Your Own Prayer:
You can also write your own breath prayer to express to God your need or an attitude you want to cultivate. Imagine God asking you, “What do you want me to do for you?” How would you answer in 12 words or less?
Try these 3 steps to do it:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you write a breath prayer relevant to your current situation.
- Start with a name of God (Jesus, Lord, Prince of Peace, Father, Almighty God)
- Express your need or intention.
Breath prayers I’ve written for myself:
Prince of Peace, be with me now.
Lord Jesus, I life my eyes to you.
My Shepherd, I surrender.
Father, help me believe.
Jesus, abide in me, and I in you.
When the day gets off to a stressful start or goes south and things fall apart, short phrases like these give us a way to pray when gathering our thoughts comes hard. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be a default phrase we repeat as we go about our day. Prayer can be as simple as breathing, a turning of our hearts to the God who is our peace.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever prayed a short prayer like the Jesus prayer or written your own?
Are you facing the challenges of life on an empty tank? Need help renewing your relationship with God?
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Need ideas on how to get more out of your quiet time? I wrote More of God: A Distracted Woman’s Guide to More Meaningful Quiet Times to help overwhelmed and distracted women recover a fresh sense of God’s presence, learn to hear His voice, and grow their prayer lives. Click on the image below for more info:
Photo Credit: Melika
Linda Stoll says
Dear Betsy, thanks for this needed reminder that God is right here with us, that our conversation with Him is only a breath away. Oh to make ‘pray without ceasing’ as easy as the breaths we breathe.
Amen, Linda! Blessing and grace to you, my friend.
This is a helpful post, Betsy! It’s so true – we can’t wait for life to quieten down because it probably never will. We need to find ways to make time for God even when it’s busy.
Yes, life doesn’t ever quiet to a standstill, so I have to make time for God and take Him with me into my day. (Find ways to be present to Him is what I meant. )
Jeanne Takenaka says
Betsy, what a great post. Breath prayers . . . I like that! With teenagers (need I say more?!), struggling family members, and hurting friends, I’ve been praying more in the car as I drive. Goodness knows I spend enough time there! And I pray when God brings people to mind when I’m making dinner or curling my hair or . . . Prayer is becoming more of an essential part of my walk with the Lord.
I love that you pray in the car. I am doing that more as well. And ditto about prayer becoming more essential!
Oh, yes. I have prayed many prayers such as you mentioned; love your name for them! Breath prayers; quiet calming. Thank you for reminding us that prayer is more than words, it is “a turning of our hearts to the God who is our peace.”
I’m glad if this encouraged you, Charla. Yes, prayer goes beyond saying words to get things I hope for! It’s also being with God and lifting my heart to Him! 🙂
Rebecca Hastings says
You had me from that first line! I can relate to this so well. And I so greatly appreciate your wisdom and practical ways to connect with God throughout the day.
Thank you, friend!
Glad I’m not the only one! Yes, I need things to be practical and do-able. <3
Betty Rojugbokan says
I like the idea of breath prayer. We just need to figure out how to be conscious of God throughout our daily grind. And when you think of breath prayer, then that’s readily achievable.
Yes, it’s a favorite way to pray lately. Blessings!
Michele Morin says
Reminders that Jesus is as close as my next breath help to keep me on the right track throughout a busy day. Thanks for sharing what’s working for you.
I love that thought, Michele. Thanks for that. Jesus as close as my next breath. <3