Feb 24, 2010

Lenten Breath Prayer

Garden State is one of my all time favorite films. I have watched it countless times and every time I plug it in I receive something new. Andrew Largeman is the main character and he delivers an epic performance; offering scenes that every viewer is able to resonate with. The movie opens with a dream where Largeman is sitting apathetically on a crashing plane. Everyone around him is frantic, crying and screaming, and clinging for salvation. All the while Largeman remains detached from the chaos. This scene poses the question; "How often do we play the role of the crazed passengers - sick with worry and driven by the fear of our surrounding circumstances? How long have we been walking around like detached zombies consumed with apathy?"

During the Lenten season I am practicing different prayer postures everyday. The first week of the season draws to a close today, ushering in the freshness of a new one and already I can see a theme weaving in and around my prayers. A tiny golden thread of rest is slowly going around my fragmented thoughts and quietly wrapping them in an aglet of trust. And this is the severe mercy of Christ, for you see, I am a woman with way too many interests. My role is more often the unraveled voyager opposed to the detached apathetic. Rarely do I pay attention to the destination, rather I intoxicate myself with the honey of possibilities embedded in each new day. What inevitably ends up happening in my drunken stooper of newness is that I quickly lose sight of my original focus and, like a wandering child distracted by a bouquet of colorful balloons, I begin running after the vibrant array of floating balloons; forgetting completely what I was initially pursuing. "Tra-la-la... Ooo pretty!" is my life motto. Very truly I need that aglet to bind me to the one thing that keeps my soul attuned.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - thing about such things." - Phillipians 4:8

I think that both Christ and Paul knew of our great need to practice the search for the sound of silence. Paul tells us to "Pray without ceasing." Take a look throughout his letters, you will see time and time again the command for us to pray, to give thanks, to intercede, to meditate on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Do we take the time to do this? Jesus was found escaping the crowds to enter into a quiet place and be with his Father. He commands us to pray where the only person that can see and hear us is our Father in Heaven.

To be a Christian is to be Christ-like, to be a disciple is to follow in the same rhythms as our Rabbi. Why is it that we walk this reflected way only when it promises the spotlight? We love the large crowds, the excitement of dangerous missions, flapping our tongues on street corners and shredding the 6 string on stage. But what about the thing that does not promise large crowds? What about that which does not stamp our passport of missionary journeys? What about the position of listening? How come we can replicate the ways in which our Rabbi teaches on a mountain but we fail miserable to draw away to a quiet place?

It is of little wonder why we are frazzled and detached. So how then, do we turn and take the first step towards silence? Beautiful question. I think one of the best places to begin is with a prayer called "Breath Prayer". It can be hard, as addicts of speed and noise, to start with carving out 15 minutes of silence; that is why I think breath prayer is the greatest starting block. It is an intentionality you can take with you wherever you are and wherever you are going. Furthermore it is a way for us to live out Paul's encouragement for us to "Pray without ceasing". Bet you never thought it was possible to accomplish huh? Well, it is! Prayer, in its purest essence, is a position of heart.

Breath Prayer is an exercise that exists organically. When we breathe, we do not think about the art of the process, we do it naturally without thought. Inhale.... Exhale... Inhale... Exhale... It occurs on its own, we do not have to will ourselves to do it. Breath Prayer follows the naturality of our breaths and couples it with intentional truths. One of the greatest prayers to incorporate into the patterns breathing is the Jesus Prayer;

"Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Inhale and think on the words; "Jesus, son of David... "
Exhale the last part of the prayer; "Have mercy on me a sinner."

Another prayer of truth aids in the security of our identity.

Inhale - "Abba".
Exhale - "I belong to you".

Abba.... I belong to you.... whether you are a frantic, disheveled wanderer or a numb careless clinging to the identity of your belovedness will reignite and steady your soul. This is the journey of Lent. A voyage towards perfect unity with our Savior and it is only through the practice of prayer that our cold hearts can be melted by the voice of Love.

No comments: