When we are afraid, we often turn to prayer, but quickly start to wonder, 'Does prayer work?' That's the question many people ask when they perceive that God is not answering their prayers. Other questions surface, too. 'Is prayer worthwhile?' 'Does it change anything?' 'Am I talking to myself?' 'Does God care about my prayers?'
I think the key in all of this is the word "answer." Remember, prayer is not mostly about us. It is a conversation with God, and conversations aren't about answers. They are about relationship. They inspire curiosity and promote discovery and foster honesty. Conversations are also about listening ... listening to the one who is listening to you.
So, in that spirit, I offer this suggestion for a breath prayer for times when you are fearful. I would encourage you to put away your quest for answers long enough to just enjoy getting to know God and how God is acting in your life right now.
Discover your own breath prayer! Here's how I would suggest you start:
Sit quietly, reminding yourself that you are in God's loving presence. If there is a particular word or phrase from Scripture that helps you enter into a prayerful, listening stance, allow yourself to just sit with that phrase for a few moments.
Then imagine God calling you by name and asking, "[Your name,)] what do you want?" Allow your truest answer to this question to come up from your heart. Express this to God. The following phrase might help you begin:
God, what I most want from you right now is . . .
Then choose your favorite name or image for God (God, Jesus, Father, Creator, Spirit, Breath of Life, Lord, Shepherd, Holy One, etc)—whichever name best captures your sense of who God is for you at this point in your relationship or who you need or want God to be.
A name for God that is most meaningful for me right now is . . .
Now combine your name for God with the expression of your heart's desire. There is no wrong or right way to combine these together. It could be something as simple as, "Jesus, have mercy on me," or "Teacher, let me see again."
Then, as you sit, begin by noticing your breath.
On the inhalation, say your name for God.
On the exhalation, say your desire.
As you continue to say this breath prayer over and over again, you begin to capture your deep yearning for intimacy, wholeness, and well-being in Christ. It may help you let go of fear and trust God in all things.