There is probably no image that expresses so well the intimacy with God in prayer as the image of God’s breath. We are like asthmatic people who are cured of their anxiety. The Spirit has taken away our narrowness (the Latin word for anxiety is angustia/narrowness) and made everything new for us. We receive a new breath, a new freedom, a new life. This new life is the divine life of God. Prayer, therefore, is God’s breathing in us, by which we become part of the intimacy of God’s inner life, and by which we are born anew.
So, the paradox of prayer is that it asks for a serious effort while it can only be received as a gift. We cannot plan, organize or manipulate God; but without a careful discipline, we cannot receive God either.
~Henri J. M. Nouwen, Reaching Out