Breathing

Context: This prayer happened as soon as I woke and began to pray this morning. I was silently repeating God’s personal name, YAHWEH, breathing in on the first syllable, and out on the second. YAH is feminine, whilst WEH is masculine, so I love how both are combined in this truly astonishing name (see reference below). The prayer begins with an in-breath.


 God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh – ‘the LORD.'”
(Exodus 6:2; NLT). 

You are the God who gives breath to all creatures.
(Numbers 16:22; NLT).

YAH: breathe in, and WEH: breathe out:
With every breath, beyond all doubt,
I breathe you in, and breathe you out –
My Maker.

I live in you, and you in me:
Creator, for eternity,
The One who comes to set me free –
My Saviour.

For I am yours, and you are mine:
You, my temple; I, your shrine;
Together, far beyond all time –
United.

We live in love, unseen, yet true:
The God who comes to make me new,
Who breathes and sighs within, for you
Are YAHWEH.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
(Song of Songs 6:3; NIV). 

We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
(1 John 4:16; NIV). 

Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true.
(John 3:33; NLT).


Reference

“The personal name of God, Yahweh, which is revealed to Moses in Exodus 3, is a remarkable combination of both female and male grammatical endings. The first part of God’s name in Hebrew, “Yah,” is feminine, and the last part, “weh,” is masculine.”

These words are quoted from an article by David Wheeler-Reed, who is Visiting Assistant Professor at Albertus Magnus College, Connecticut. His article is well worth reading, and is available free of charge online at The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/what-the-early-church-thought-about-gods-gender-100077#. I am very grateful for being able to include his words here today.

When I clasp my hands

Context: When I was praying this morning, with my little olive-wood holding cross clasped between the palms of my hands, I saw that heaven was between them. Today’s prayer then flowed straight into my mind. After writing it, I discovered, to my great delight, that I was able to say it whilst moving smoothly between the actions described in each verse.


Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; TIV). 

1. When I clasp my hands together,
Heaven is between them.

2. When I lift my hands in prayer,
Yahweh, you are near.

3. When I fold my arms across my breast,
Christ, you embrace me,

4. And when I breathe your name,
Beloved Spirit, you are here.

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,
who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants –
men and women alike (Joel 2:29; NLT).


References 

1. Jesus summoned the crowd and the disciples and said, “If you wish to come after me, you must deny your very self, take up your cross and follow in my footsteps” (Mark 8:34; TIV). 

2. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless YHWH! (Psalm 134:2; TIV). 

You are near, Yahweh (Psalm 119:151; WEB).

3. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NLT). 

4. Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7; WEB). 

When the Paraclete comes – the Spirit of Truth who comes from Abba God, whom I myself will send from my Abba – she will bear witness on my behalf (John 15:26; TIV).

He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22; NIV).

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

Birth to bliss

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born (Matthew 1:18; NLT). 

Birth to bliss, and bliss to birth:
Christ, Messiah, here on earth.
Bliss to birth, and birth to bliss:
Now, receiving Mary’s kiss.

Light to dark, and dark to light:
Christ, transfigured, shining bright.
Dark to light, and light to dark:
Now, in anguish, broken heart.

Sweat to blood, and blood to sweat:
Jesus, weeping, facing death.
Blood to sweat, and sweat to blood:
Crucified, his pain is love.

Death to life, and life to death:
Jesus takes his final breath.
Life to death, and death to life:
He comes again, to end all strife.

Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28; NLT).

References

Christ died and rose again for this very purpose – to be Lord both of the living and of the dead (Romans 14:9; NLT).

The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war any more (Isaiah 2:4; NLT). 

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:3-4; NLT). 

Close

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me
(Psalm 23:4; NLT).

1. You are as close to me as breathing.
You are as close to me as dread.
You are as close, Lord, as my heartbeat –
Closer than words unsaid.

2. You are as close to me as weeping.
You are as close to me as pain.
You are as close to me as anguish –
Closer than guilt, or shame.

3. You are as close to me as living.
You are as close to me as prayer.
You are as close to me as panic –
Closer than my despair.

4. You are as close to me as grieving.
You are as close to me as kin.
You are as close to me as dying –
Closer, by far, than sin.

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us
(Colossians 3:11; NLT).


References 

1.  The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

2. Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).

3. The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; NRSV).

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15:34; NLT).

4. To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:11; NLT). 

Into your hands I commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5; NIV).

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-9; NLT). 

You formed me

The Almighty …blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and the womb
(Genesis 49:25; NIV).

1. Lord,
You formed me in the womb,
Laboured, bore me, gave me breath,
Flooded me with brilliant light,
And washed me with your love.

2. Next,
You took me in your arms,
And warmed me with your Spirit’s fire,
Fed me with your perfect truth,
And soothed me with your peace. 

3. Then,
You stood, to carry me
From that day forward, through the years,
Prepared to bear me, and my cross,
To share my joys and tears.

As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our mother
(Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 59, Julian of Norwich).


References

1. I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5; NLT).

You guided my conception and formed me in the womb (Job 10:10; NLT).

The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name (Isaiah 49:1; NLT). 

The Lord …will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labour, I will cry and groan and pant” (Isaiah 42;14; NLT).

The breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NKJV). 

God is light (1 John 1:5; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

2. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you (Deuteronomy 33:27; NLT).

The Lord your God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV). 

The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

Anyone who feeds on me will live because of me (John 6:57; NLT). 

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT). 

3. Praise the Lord; praise God our saviour! For each day he carries us in his arms (Psalm 68:19; NLT).

He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19; NIV). 

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity (Hebrews 2:14; NIV).

Heal our hatred

“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me.
Heal me, for I have sinned against you”
(Psalm 31:4; NLT).

1. Lord,
Heal our hatred
With your love,
Our lies and boasting
With your breath;
Our lust for power
With your tears,
Our cruelty
With your distress.

2. Lord,
Heal our malice
With your blood,
Our greed and envy
With your pain;
Our barbarism
With your death:
Then we will all
Be whole again.

He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole
(Isaiah 53:5; NLT).


References 

1. He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22; NLT).

Jesus wept (John 11:35; NLT).

He became anguished and distressed (Matthew 26:37; NLT). 

2. The blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7; NLT).

Christ suffered physical pain (1 Peter 4:1; NLT).

Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; NASB95).

His hands make whole (Job 5:18; NKJV ). 

A step ahead

The Lord went ahead of them (Exodus 13:21; NLT). 

1. Lord,
You’re just a step ahead:
My hope, my strength, my wine, my bread;
I want to learn from all you said
And serve you.

2. Lord,
You’re always very near:
My help, when I am faced with fear;
I want to follow, thank, revere
And serve you.

3. Lord,
You’re just a breath away:
My light, my truth, my life, my way;
May I grow more like you each day
And serve you.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).


References

1. My hope is in you (Psalm 39:7; CSB). 

The sovereign Lord is my source of strength Habakkuk 3 10; NET).

He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people – an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it” (1 Corinthians 11:25; NLT). 

I am the living bread that came down from from heaven (John 6:51; NLT).

Learn from me (Matthew 11:29; NIV). 

Serve only the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 13:4. NLT). 

2. We give thanks because you are near, Lord (Psalm 75:1; NLT). 

God is my help (Psalm 54:4; NIV). 

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3; NIV). 

Follow me and be my disciple (Matthew 9:9; NLT).

Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV). 

Let all the people of the world revere him (Psalm 33:8; NIV).

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark 9:35; NIV).

3. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

I am the light of the world (John 8:12; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT). 

Serve the Lord with all your heart (1 Samuel 12:20; NIV). 

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Just a breath (for K. and R.)

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

1. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A pause, a stillness, every day;
A moment when I stop to say:
I love you. 

2. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A lull, a silence, every day;
A moment when my thoughts don’t stray:
You love me.

3. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A hush, a darkness, every day;
A moment when I cease to pray:
United. 

4. Lord,
You’re just a breath away;
A rest, a oneness, every day;
A moment, Father, come what may:
Completeness.

You are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10; BLB).


References 

1. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person (Genesis 2:7; NLT).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV).

I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT). 

2. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

3. He himself gives to all people life and breath (Acts 17:25; NASB20).

Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

4. When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust (Psalm 104:29; NIV).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30; NLT).

I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

Heal our unbelief

We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; GNT).

“Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-4; NLT).

Father,
You bring good from bad,
And peace from every fear we have;
Truth from lies,
And gain from loss –
Help us to overcome our unbelief.

Father,
You bring light from dark.
For growth from pain, you hit the mark;
Love from hate,
And faith from doubt –
Bring gain from all our troubles, Great High Priest. 

Father,
You bring life from death,
And comfort from each final breath;
Hope from grief,
And joy from woe –
Your resurrection, Lord our God, is sweet.

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25; NLT).

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies (Psalm 103:2-4; NLT).

Maundy Thursday

I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:24; NLT). 

1. Lord,
In shadow, and in grief:
Help me with my unbelief.

2. Lord,
In darkness, and in pain:
Send your light and hope again.

3. Lord,
In suffering, and fear:
Comfort me, for you are near.

4. Lord,
In facing up to death:
Hold me tight, till my last breath.

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you (Deuteronomy 33:27; NLT).


References

1. Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons,  James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:36-8; NLT).

2. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock …

3. … At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:45-6; NLT).

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and the staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

4. Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture),“I thirst” (John 19:28; RSV).

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last (Luke 24:46;NLT).