Henri Nouwen, Dutch Catholic priest, professor, theologian, and writer offered us a beautiful picture of prayer. He said, “The image that best expresses the intimacy we share with God during prayer is the image of God’s breath. We receive a new breath, a new freedom, and a new life. This new life is the divine life of God Himself. Prayer, therefore, is God’s breathing in us, which allows us to become part of the intimacy of God’s inner life and be born anew.”

If we take this idea to heart, then every time we whisper a prayer, meditate, intentionally turn our hearts and minds to the things of God in prayer, we are receiving the oxygen that provides for our very life and well-being. God is breathing into us a newness of life that gives us the freedom to live and move and have our being in His care. Prayer connects us to God like nothing else can because with every prayer comes divine intimacy and with divine intimacy, comes a greater desire to know God better. 

To me, this means that with each prayer I might offer up to God, God offers something immediately back to me. He not only hears my prayer, receives my requests, but fills me with His presence in a way that comforts my soul and brings peace to my heart. His breath sustains me and keeps me connected to Him while He works toward the best possible responses to my prayer. 

I admit that sometimes, I take prayer for granted as though I somehow earned the right to talk to God. I believe it’s more correct for me to realize that God gives me the privilege of praying so that I can immediately receive His help. He does it directly, every time, and with every breath I take. Perhaps when we’re hit by the stress and the difficulties life can bring, we will find greater solace in turning to God and taking a deep breath. After all, He is the One who sustains our souls.