Book Review: The Breath of Life: A simple way to pray, by Ron DelBene

spiritedStarred Page By spirited, 18th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
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This article reviews a remarkable little book.

It tells us how to pray, and also what to pray.

The author has created a certain way of praying. He calls this his "breath prayer."

"We must have on our lips what is always in our heart," he tell us.

Within the Christian tradition of the East, there is a breath prayer called the "Jesus Prayer", which is this one:

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

He quotes these ancient roots as the basis for his own way of praying.

The author, and his book!

The author of this book, Ron DelBene is an Episcopal priest, (The Episcopal church is linked to the Church of England being aligned to it in its commonality of beliefs and doctrines), an author, a poet, and a spiritual retreat leader.

The author also holds a master's degree in Theology. He was assisted by a couple of other seasoned writers in Mary & Herb Montgomery in the writing of this book.

This revised edition of his book was published in 1992 by Upper Room books. It is a relatively small book of only 110 pages.

You can actually download a free PDF copy of it here on his web-site:

The writer in a nutshell is saying that we can find our own personal prayer, and then pray it. He calls this our, "breath prayer".

Ron begins his book by giving us some examples from his own life of when God's time and his time intercepted. This is when he and God crossed each other intimately closely on his path, and when he felt particularly close to God as a result. He says that God's time and his time meet when he feels he is in God's presence.

The next part of his book guides us in how we can find our own personal breath prayer. This is a short meaningful phrase of only a few words, or so.

We are to imagine that God is calling us by our name, and asking us this question:

“John, what do you want?”

We are to answer this question with whatever arises from our heart. It must come from our hearts, and not just from our mind. It must be personal.

You must feel it deeply. If all this takes place, a poignantly real and touching personal phrase of perhaps six or eight syllables will arise in you. It will flow in its words rhythmically.

I performed his exercise for myself

I asked a slightly longer question to God though.

(Actually it was more a series of short questions, but that's only me. I like things to move along with more depth, imparting to me a greater understanding, but while still remaining in a simple way, overall.)

This is what I asked God.

"God, if you asked me the question, “what do I want” what would my soul's answer be? What would my own answer be? Would these two answers be different?"

"Do I actually really want anything though?"

"I do not want only wisdom, nor truth, nor knowledge, not even experiences, on their own. I want to know best how to use your love in my life, and to have the courage to use it, the ability to use it, the power to use it, the knowledge and the wisdom to use it wisely, and to sense for myself the absolute ability/authority behind all of this, or to grasp the true realness of it all being really so."

"In short, I want to know as Jesus knew you, heal as he healed, and live as he lived, with access to the knowledge and to the understanding that he had too."

"How do I do all of this?"

God answered me like this:

“All of this comes in time to those who trust it to come. Never stop doubting, but never stop trusting too. The two live together within love, and come out to meet and to greet you whenever one side of love is required as a lever for you to reach into more love, and sometimes this is from the other side of that love."

"Heal by not healing. Be wise in not being wise. Do all things through not doing them. Stop trying to be anything you are not already. Just be you, one step at a time, in the silence of that. Stop making any extra noise about wanting to heal, or to be different, just be you for me."

"Pray, 'let me be you for you God.'"

I always like it more when God gives me such a direct answer as this. I do not trust stuff that just comes from myself.

This then is the breath prayer that I found for myself. It of course really comes to me as much from me as it does from God.

This must be so because I can see myself in God, and God in myself when I meditate with God like this.

"Our breath prayer emerges from us," says the author of this little book. Of course, he really means that it must emerge from the God part of ourselves, the God within to be real.

Prayer should always be on the tip of our tongues, but also it must be rooted deep in our hearts

"Pray without ceasing."

So says Saint Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, in the New Testament of the Christian bible, in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 17.

The author tells us that once we have found our own personal, "breath prayer" we should pray it in this way, whenever we can.

It will change us in many ways. He next spends a chapter or two telling us all of the benefits of our praying our prayer in this way.

"All forms of prayer bring us more and more into an awareness of God's presence."

The author tells us this on page 46 of his book. I would agree with this, and would add that praying draws us closer to God, and him to us too.

Ron tells us to pray our prayer at every moment when we think of it. Say it wherever you are like this, and it will become a part of you.

Praying brings you into harmony with yourself as well as with God, and his kingdom.

The prayer is a physical one first (spoken by your body & voice), then it moves or sinks into your mind, where it changes your thoughts and thinking, purifying them all.

Finally it moves back into your heart, the very place where it first came forth from.

By this stage it us integrated or assimilated itself into and across your whole, mind/body/heart/emotions and even to your soul, or in other words into every part of who you are within God.

At this stage you will know God very personally, and be always feeling that you are an intimate part of him, and him of you. You will feel loved, and loving.

This final stage the author poetically refers to us being the "gift of tears".

This is so because so often this type of experience will cause such tears to well up inside of you and you will weep with the sheer joy of being a part of God's kingdom , and knowing that you are serving him fully in, and from your life.

Photo credits:

The photos used in the first two sections here belong to me the author of this article. The other one used in this third section has been sourced from the free media site

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author avatar brendamarie
18th Oct 2015 (#)

great review spirited thanks for sharing. I have read other books that you have reviewed and got much from them.

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author avatar spirited
19th Oct 2015 (#)

thanks brendamarie,

perhaps we like the same type of books...or at least find them valuable.

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author avatar M G Singh
19th Oct 2015 (#)

Interesting review

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author avatar spirited
19th Oct 2015 (#)

thanks Madan

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
19th Oct 2015 (#)

Nice book review, cheers!

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author avatar spirited
19th Oct 2015 (#)

thanks Fern

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author avatar Retired
19th Oct 2015 (#)

Seems inspiring...thanks for the book recommendation.

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author avatar spirited
19th Oct 2015 (#)

thanks Mary, I enjoyed reading the book.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
19th Oct 2015 (#)

Thanks for this review Spirited.

We need inputs and guidance from those who have gained from their insights so that we can benefit.

I try to incorporate prayer as a vital part of my thoughts and actions so that it becomes a way of life and vital part of living like the breath process.

Yes, prayers should change the way we think and live; otherwise it is sort of "lip service" - siva

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author avatar spirited
19th Oct 2015 (#)

thanks siva,

that's exactly what he's talking about I think,

"I try to incorporate prayer as a vital part of my thoughts and actions so that it becomes a way of life and vital part of living like the breath process."

well said!

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