Deep Breathing Techniques: An Exercise in Calming and Prayer

Deep Breathing Techniques: An Exercise in Calming and Prayer

Content woman relaxing next to a calm seaWhen we feel stress and anxiety, two effective ways for bringing relief are breathing and prayer.

For centuries, faith traditions have combined these two common, everyday human actions as a means for caring for oneself and getting through tense times.

Here is a simple form of breathing prayer that you can do at your work station, in your home, while standing in line at the grocery store … anywhere!

Deep Breathing Prayer Technique

  1. Close your eyes or softly gaze at the floor.
  2. Slowly inhale through your nose.
  3. Now slowly exhale through your mouth.
  4. Repeat several times. Notice the stillness you are experiencing.
  5. Select a word that expresses what you need from yourself, such as: “Patience”, “Focus,” “Help,” or “Calm.” Say this word each time you breathe in. Allow yourself to receive this gift.
  6. Select a word that expresses your frustration or struggle, such as: “Anger,” “Fear,” “Disappointment.” Say this word each time you breathe out. Allow yourself to let go of this pressure.
  7. Repeat the above steps several times. Allow the breath of life to nourish you.
  8. When you are ready, return to your tasks and breathe a prayer for those around you.

Thanks be to God for the strength and faith we find within ourselves during life’s challenging moments!


Rev. Karl VanHarn is the Director of Pastoral Services and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, as well as an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church. He worked with Pine Rest CPE from 1995 to 2004, while serving as a Chaplain at Wedgwood Christian Services. He has been an ACPE Certified Educator since 1998.

He has a B.A. in Philosophy from Calvin College, a M.Div. from Calvin Theological Seminary and a D. Min. from Western Theological Seminary.

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