“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV).
My Prayer Life was a dud
My prayer life for most of my adult life has looked like this:
“Okay, God… I’m ready to pray. Let me focus hard. Maybe even squint? So I can see Jesus better.”
“I’m getting serious now. Because look, I know you’re God, the Father, the Big Man. I need to step it up.”
I would proceed to read scripture, run through my hopes and fears and ask Him to help me and others. By the time it was finished, I would wind up asking:
“Uh, okay, did it work, did I do it ‘right’? Is that what it’s supposed to be like?”
Because, somehow, even if I could say it was a ‘good’ prayer session, it seemed like I never got to the great stuff.
When I say great stuff, I am referring to that deep connection with God, where you easily sink into the peace beneath all the noise in your life.
It is the place where what God says to you is loud and audible, and what you say to God pours out.
I wanted my prayer sessions to be frictionless and flowing.
Like running with loose hamstrings and hips.
I have come a long way and today I can finally declare that my prayer life is actually satisfying.
I have flow.
I have peace.
I do not need to squint to see Jesus.
I do not have a secret formula.
I am simply using what I have always had but never thought to use to pray.
I employ what I call the ‘Whole Body Prayer”.
It is available to every single one of us right now.
This is how it works:
- Sit on a comfortable chair or lie down on the floor.
- Close your eyes and take 20 belly breaths to warm up.
A ‘belly breath’ is simply where your belly expands outward on the inhale and contracts towards your spine on the exhale. This outward / inward movement of the belly indicates that the diaphragm is expanding and contracting.
- After the 20 breaths, begin counting to 5 on inhales and 5 on your exhales.
The inhales are deep and the exhales are complete. As soon as you are relaxed, you can start your prayer session and go on for as long as you want.
- You may recite your favorite scriptures or think of single words like ‘Love’ on the inhale and ‘Jesus’ on the exhale.
This is not meditation in a traditional sense.
You are not trying to drift off to sleep or nothingness.
Think of it more as an ‘active meditation’.
2 important things are happening in the body.
First, the movement of the diaphragm activates an important nerve called the Vagus nerve.
The Vagus nerve turns on your parasympathetic nervous system which is the ‘rest and relax’ part of your nervous system.
This calms your mind down, removing distractions.
Second, the deep inhaling and exhaling brings significant oxygen into your bloodstream.
This energizes you.
You become calm and aware at the same time – the perfect state for deep prayer.
You are able to focus effortlessly.
The rhythm of the breathing combined with the single words or scripture creates a powerful flow.
This flow, similar to the rhythm of a long steady run, takes you very deep.
God gave us body, soul and spirit in one body.
It makes sense that we would use all three together to speak with Him.
Try ‘Whole Body Prayer’ the next time you pray.
You may find it odd or uncomfortable at first, but stick with it, just like how you stuck to running.
It is a beautiful, satisfying way to use the gifts God gave you.
Reflection & Prayer Pointers
Next time you pray, take a moment to ‘observe’ your body.
Is your body, soul and spirit fully engaged to maximize your focus and communication with God?
Does your prayer have a rhythm and flow?
Try Whole Body Prayer for week and keep a journal.
What feels comfortable and uncomfortable?
Did those feeling change as you progressed through your prayer session and with each new session?