Recently my wife and I took a trip to Seattle, Washington. We were in the Northwest for a Vineyard leadership conference and took a couple extra days on the front end of the trip to spend some time together.
The Seattle area is one my favorite places on the face of the earth. I spent much of my childhood in and around Seattle and in many ways it feels like home.
We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island. This simple 35 minute boat ride is always one of the highlights of a trip to Seattle (for a longer trip head north to Anacortes and visit Orcas or San Juan Island).
Since I was a child, I have a simple practice that I do during these ferry rides. I stand as far forward as I can, close my eyes, breathe in through my nose and then out through my mouth. The cold coastal air is invigorating and filled with the smells of my childhood. After I came to faith in Jesus, this practice has become a sacred time of prayer and communion in the midst of God’s creation. I love it. There’s nothing like it.
My simple childhood discovery is not unlike the ancient practice of “breath prayers”. The idea is simple. You choose a short phrase, something like “Holy Spirit, do Your work in me” or “Lord Jesus, have mercy” praying the first half of the phrase as you breathe in and the second half as you breathe out. Simple, yet profound. For me, the addition of this beautiful and familiar setting has made this practice all the more powerful.
The refrain for my song “Peace” is another example of this “breath prayer” concept. I found myself praying the following lyrics from the song while on this recent trip:
Breathe in peace, breathe out strife
Breath out death, breathe in life
Breathe in love, breathe out hate
Breathe out fear, breathe in faith
While writing this song, I had the sense that God would actively use this refrain to break the power of anxiety, fear, and shame over people, especially those who struggle with night terrors and insomnia. I know it’s been a powerful tool in my life. I pray that God continues to use these simple words to bring life and freedom to many.
Breathe in, breathe out…