Reflection

Breath Prayer for the Refugee Crisis

A breathing prayer that combines contemplation and action, seeking to challenge the injustices against migrants and refugees.

Breath Prayer for the Refugee Crisis

A breathing prayer that combines contemplation and action, seeking to challenge the injustices against migrants and refugees.


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Breath prayer is an ancient Christian practice that combines short phrases with the rhythm of your breathing. To do a breath prayer you pick a phrase, then you speak or recite half of it when you breathe in and the other half when you breathe out.
 

The traditional Christian breath prayer is the Jesus Prayer:
 

   (Breathe In) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God (Breathe Out) have    mercy on me a sinner.
 

Others include:
 

   (Breathe In) Be still and know (Breathe Out) that I am God.
   (Breathe In) I no longer live (Breathe Out) but Christ lives in me.

 

Breath prayer is a way that Christians throughout time have attempted to “pray without ceasing.” In it, prayer becomes as natural as breathing.
 

In Buddhist tradition, meditation takes a similar form as breath prayer. But instead of just an individual activity, Buddhist breath prayer is a form of seeking social justice. During Buddhist meditation, someone breathes in the sins of the world and breathes out corrections. Their prayers become vehicles for transformation as they keep a person centered on the path of correct actions, thoughts, and intentions. This centered-ness allows someone to live for transformation in the world.
 

In this way, the breath prayer can be a tool to combine contemplation and action, promoting just living and action in the world.
 

As you racial injustice in our world, try reciting or creating a breath prayer that will keep you centered on the path to justice. For example:
 

   (Breathe In) For those forced out of their homes, (Breathe Out) let them find a place of rest.
   (Breathe In) In a world broken by fear and anger, (Breathe Out) let us all see others as the image of God.

 

Try living with this breath prayer for awhile or create your own. Allow it to guide you as you determine how you want to act on the injustice and pain caused by the refugee crisis. 

 

Adapted from and informed by Rev. Jeremy Smith on HackingChristianity.net

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