Barbara Jimenez


Prayer Exercises

If you are hungry for a deeper connection with God through prayer, consider trying a few of these prayer exercises. They have helped me experience God more deeply, and I’ve seen them work for others as well.


Meditative Prayer

Christian meditation opens us to the mind of God and to His Presence in the world.  In meditative prayer, we approach Scripture or a passage with our mind.


How to pray this way:

  • Read a passage slowly, aloud or in your mind, letting the words wash over you, savoring them.

  • Stay with the words that especially catch your attention and absorb them.

  • Keep repeating a word or phrase, aware of the feelings that come up.

  • When a thought resonates with you, stay with it, allowing the fullness of it to penetrate.

  • Read and reread the passage lovingly, as you would reread a letter from a dear friend.


Imaginative Prayer

In imaginative prayer, we enter into a life event or story passage by way of imagination, trying to make use of all our senses. In this way of praying, our imagination helps us to be present and witness the stories presented in Scripture. The Holy Spirit enlivens the particular event we are contemplating and speaks to us through that event.


How to pray this way:

  • Read Scripture and enter the story as if we were there.

  • Watch what happens, listen to what is being said.

  • Become part of the story, assume the role of one of the people.

  • Look at each of the individuals. What does he or she experience? To whom does each one speak?  What are the details of the setting, of their faces, their body language?

  • Then ask yourself: What difference does it make for my life, my family, for society, if I listen to and apply this message?

Especially in Gospel stories, this method of prayer can be particularly effective.

  • Enter into dialogue with Jesus.

  • Be there with him and for him.

  • Listen to him.

  • Let him be for you what he wants to be.

  • Respond to him.



Centering Prayer

Centering prayer is a very simple form of prayer, frequently without words. It is a prayer that connects our heart to God’s heart and opens our heart to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. In centering prayer, we go to the deepest center of ourselves — a place of stillness where we most experience having been created by a living God who beholds us with a smile. To enter into centering prayer requires a recognition of our dependence on God and a surrender to his Spirit of love.


How to pray this way:

  • “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)

  • Sit quietly, comfortably and relaxed.

  • Rest in your longing and desire for God.

  • Move to the center within your deepest self. This movement can be helped by imagining yourself slowly descending in an elevator or walking down flights of stairs.

  • Acknowledge the distractions around you. Make peace with the fact that we live in a noisy world. Press on until you are still before God.

  • In the stillness, become aware of God’s presence and peacefully absorb his love.


Breath Prayer or Prayer of the Heart

Breathing is something we do unconsciously and take for granted. Breath prayer reminds us that in the same way that we cannot live on one breath of air, we cannot live on just one breath of God. God is the breath of life for our soul and we need to breathe him in all day long, every day of our lives. Breath prayer reminds us that each breath we are given is God’s gift and that God’s Spirit is nearer to us than our own breath. Breath prayer is a very old form of prayer that has been seen as a way of living out Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing.”


How to pray this way:

  • Be alone in a quiet place.  

  • Close your eyes, breathe softly, and look into your own heart.

  • Relax your mind and let your thoughts flow from your head to your heart and say, while breathing, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me.”  

  • Say these words gently with your lips or in your mind.  Let go of all other thoughts. Be relaxed and peaceful and repeat them over and over again.

  • Imagine the nearness of God.  Settle deeply into the truth that Christ is in you.

  • Deeply breathe in, repeating any name of God that you like.

  • As you exhale, voice a deep desire of your heart.

  • This short prayer can be repeated over and over throughout the day.

Examples of breath prayer:

  • Breathe in “Abba,” breathe out “I belong to you.”

  • Breathe in “Prince of Peace,” breathe out “give me peace.”