Praying with Body, Breath, and Creation

“Praying with Body Breath and Creation” is the one-hour spiritual reflection/guided prayer/faith sharing gathering I hosted for a faith-based community organization in Chicago. I’m sharing the text of the gathering, which consisted of about 15 different people (diverse in age and race, various Christian denominations). It includes a bit of content, a guided breath/body prayer practice drawing on Scripture, some optional faith sharing reflection, and then closing with a group blessing.
Praying With Body, Breath, Creation
Facilitated by Rhonda Miska, OP
Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership spiritual reflection
Friday, April 24, 2020. 12-1 pm
(Context: COVID-19 pandemic)
welcome, zoom etiquette (please mute when not speaking, remember to unmute)
introductions and check-in: “how are you arriving to this call today? What’s alive for you as you join in together with community?”
Theme: Praying with body, spirit, breath. Last week in our spiritual reflection, we prayed with reality of depression and anxiety that many feel, and are feeling more acutely at this time. That manifests itself in our body – tight shoulders, clenched jaw, furrowed brow, maybe an upset stomach. Shortness of breath or holding your breath without realizing it. Sometimes we aren’t even aware. Of course, we celebrate that God has a human body in Jesus. St Dominic, founder of Dominican order, valued the body and developed nine ways of prayer that included the body. Valuing the body also meant valuing the goodness of the natural world – significant as we are celebrating earth week.
Invitation to enter into prayer practice with scripture that includes body and breath. I’ll offer some Scriptures and invite you to breathe with them. We begin remembering we are always in God’s presence – God whose name is mercy, God who calls out to us constantly in love, God who is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.
BODY – scan your body start with feet, feel support of chair. Move around if you want. Just be in your body and notice what’s there.
BREATH – just notice. Texture of inhale, texture of exhale. Don’t change, just notice with curiosity. If there is a place in your body that is tight, see if you can send the breath there. The Hebrew word for breath and spirit are the same, Ruach, and is significant in this Easter time
Receive God’s word and receive as you breathe in a blessing of Ruach, of God’s breath, God’s spirit.
From Genesis (1:1-2): “In the beginning, God created and the heavens and the earth…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.”
Breathe in the power of God’s creating Spirit
From Ezekiel (37:9): Then God said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”
Breathe in the power of God’s resurrecting Spirit
Breathe out into the world the power of God’s resurrecting Spirit
From John (20: 21-22) Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Breathe in the power of God’s peaceful Spirit.
Breathe out into the world the power of God’s peaceful Spirit.
From Acts (2:1-2) “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting”
Breathe in the power of God’s mighty Spirit.
Breathe out into the world the power of God’s peaceful Spirit.
From Psalm 104:24-31 “How vast are your works, O Lord. In your wisdom you have made them all, the earth is filled with all you have created…you send forth your breath, and they are recreated, and the face of the earth is renewed.”
Breathe in the power of God’s renewing Spirit.
Breathe out into the world the power of God’s peaceful Spirit.
Breathe in God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Breathe out God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Breathe into every corner of your body God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Breathe out into everybody in the world God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Breathe into every corner of your mind God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Breathe out into every mind in the world God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Breathe into every corner of your heart God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Breathe out into every heart in the world God’s power of creation, resurrection, peace, power, and renewal.
Amen.
Faith sharing (reminder of ground rules – confidentiality, all invited none required to share, speak from the “I,” etc)
Two parts – answer as you feel fit
1) What have you noticed about your own breath and body during the weeks of the pandemic? What renewal might God be inviting?
Intercessions – quiet shared moment of breath (“conspire” = to breath together)
Our Father (language of choice)
Close with blessing (write text of blessing in chat box) “Name, breathe in and receive the spirit of Jesus.” Respond Amen, and speak to another until all are blessed.

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