When I was a hospice chaplain I helped individuals to find their Breath Prayer. Helen was one such person. She was in a nursing home. She was angry and nasty to anyone entering her room, including her sons. Yet she asked for the hospice chaplain to come and visit her. I entered her room, and she yelled, "Sit down and behave yourself!" I sat down just inside the doorway and remained silent.
Helen eyed me thoughtfully and asked, "How do I get to God?" I calmly and slowly walked to her bedside. She was sitting on the side of her bed. "When you pray or think of God, what name do you use?" "God" she responded.
"Helen, imagine that God is standing next to you and he asks you what you want. How do you answer?" She paused, "I want to be with you."
"You can pray, 'God, I want to be with you.' This is a prayer that you can pray as you breathe in and out. When someone enters your room, you pray this prayer and when you look at the time. Is there anything you want to change or add to this prayer?"
"Yes. God I want to be with me always."
A few weeks later I learned that Helen died peacefully and that her attitude had changed. She was even reconciled with her sons.
How you can create your own Breath Prayer
1. What is your favored name for God?
2. What is your deepest need?
3. What do you want to ask of our Beloved One?
4. In a short phrase, word your prayer so that it easily flows with your in-breath and out-breath.
5. Choose what prompts you will use: post-its posted in various places; gong through a door; checking the time; quietly sitting for a few moments with your eyes closed; gardening; receiving a massage.
I want to hear from you. Let me how it goes.