St. ThéRèse of Lisieu said, "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy." Cardinal Ravisi in leading the Papal Lenten retreat this past week compared prayer to the verb "to breathe." He said believers need to look on prayer the same way as they do breath, as a physical necessity rather than an optional free-time activity. He quoted Kierkegaard: "Why do I pray? Why do I breathe? Because otherwise I'd die."
Prayer is to inhale the divine breath:
The same breath of God that hovered over the chaotic earth and created a new world;
The same breath of God Jesus breathed on his disciples giving them the ministry of reconciliation;
The same breath of God that filled the upper room on the Day of Pentecost as a mighty, rushing wind.
Sometimes Christian prayer is too intense, too deep, for words. We sometimes do not have a vocabulary to make a prayer. We may not even know how we ought to pray. However, even to acknowledge this is to pray. To pray this way is a prayer of the heart. This prayer of the heart is an invitation for the divine breath to breathe deeply in us until we and the ones we pray for are filled with an awareness of the height, depth, and width of the immeasurable, immortal, and immense love God has for us and for his creation.
Jesus said, "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
O breath of God breathe in me that I may live. Amen.