Saturday, March 11, 2017

Breath Prayers

Pain and discomfort have been worse this week than in a while, and I've been needing a lot of short "arrow" prayers and breath prayers.

Breath prayers are especially helpful right now, because they do help me to literally breathe -- to say words I need to say as I take a deep intake of breath, to let that breath out in a swooshing exhale and say the rest of the words from the heart.

Some of the breath prayers I've been praying the most this week include:

  • More of Jesus/Less of me

  • Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father/Have mercy on me, a sinner

  • The Lord is my shepherd/I shall not want

  • The name of the Lord is a strong tower/the righteous run into it and they are saved

This morning I added this one, which is a paraphrase from an excerpt from a Jean-Pierre de Caussade reading in a Lenten devotional:

  • It matters not what my abilities are/only that I belong to you, Lord 
True confession: I sometimes struggle with de Caussade's talk of surrender. It can feel so wholehearted, yes, but so hard, and sometimes I think he veers us away from some of the things I think Jesus still asks us to do, even in the midst of total surrender and reverent submission -- ask, seek, knock, persist, be bold! Things we see in Jesus' own life! Oh, and complain and lament (from Psalm 55 today, and my prayers not just for myself, but for the whole hurting world).

And yet, I always seem to find myself stumbling across something that de Caussade has written during some of the deepest and darkest times of my life, and there is always something he says that tunnels into my heart and makes me long for deeper trust and deeper surrender. And today, that was it. It doesn't really matter so much what I do (or think I can do, or somehow manage to accomplish) it matters that the Lord has hold of me. It matters that I belong to him. I think de Caussade's words were actually "It matters not what my abilities may be then, provided that I possess you, Lord."

And possess is a beautiful word, but its connotation makes me want to flip it around. For the Lord possesses me. He owns me, cherishes me, treasures me. loves me. He lives inside me and makes me his child. I am his dear possession, one he gave his life to find and keep (for I was among the lost and found). And so I belong to him forever. Thank God.

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