This Relief and Release Prayer idea is based on Mark 7:34 where Jesus let out a long, deep sigh before healing a deaf and mute man.

How Jesus Used a Deep Sigh Prayer

In the book of Mark, Jesus takes a deaf and mute man aside privately to heal him.  Jesus began with healing gestures by putting his fingers in the man’s ears and then touching the man’s tongue.

Here’s how Jesus did his relief and release sigh prayer:

“He (Jesus) looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him (the deaf man) ‘Ephphatha!’, which means ‘be opened!’”  (Mark 7:34 NIV)

What is a Sigh and What Does it Mean?

A sigh is defined as a very deep and long inhale and exhale that is forceful enough to be heard by those around us.

Sighs happen whether we are alone or with others and are a way of conveying emotions, reacting to situations or releasing stress.    Sighs express the depth of our feelings without having to use words.

Often sighs are indications of negative emotions such as being frustrated, disappointed, tired out, wishing things were better, longing for something, giving up on a situation or being stressed or bored.

One source pointed out that sighs can be disrespectful showing you’re not interested in the other person or feel negatively about them.

On the other hand, they can also indicate positive emotions, such as experiencing relief as in the phrase, “Breathing a sigh of relief.”  They can also indicate contentment and satisfaction.

The Simple Steps in Relief and Release Prayer Using Deep Sigh Prayer

Because the Bible specifically tells us that Jesus took the man away privately, we can imagine that the he takes are not so the crowds can see what he’s doing but rather a part of the way he is communicating with God in his prayer.  Here is a look at the things Jesus did in his prayer and how we can use them.

Step 1: Identify something specific God is giving you a deep yearning to see redeemed, released or relieved.

Jesus became aware of the plight of the deaf man because the man’s friend brought him to Jesus and begged him to help him.  (Matthew 7:32)

To use a sigh prayer, be on the lookout for something that moves your heart to pray for a desperate, sorrowful or difficult situation.

Underneath every specific request is the deep longing for release and relief either for ourselves, for others or for our world.

Jesus desired for the deaf man’s ears to be opened.  But beyond that, the deeper, more urgent longing of Jesus that the ears of all of us to be opened to hearing his words so we might turn to him and be saved and healed.  (See Matthew 11:5, Luke 12:49,50, Mark 4:12, Luke 13:34)

Some of the specific things we might be praying about include prayers for salvation, forgiveness and healing.  We may be praying about world issues, praying against social ills or praying for deliverance from evil, and the end of war and conflict.  We may be praying for revival or for those who have experienced horrible loss or trauma.  Or we may be moved to pray for an individual who is breaking under the burden of their life situation.

Step 2:  Look up to heaven like Jesus did before his deep sigh prayer.  

Here and in other places in Scripture, Jesus is reported to have looked up to heaven as an act of prayer.

When Jesus was about to divide 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed 5,000 people he looked up to heaven as he thanked God for the bread.   It says, “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves”  (Mark 6:41 NIV)

Another time, when Jesus had ordered the stone from the tomb of Lazarus to be moved so Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus again lifted his head to heaven in prayer.  “So they took the stone away.  Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I knew you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe you sent me.’”  (John 11:41,41 NIV)

It’s interesting to note that because Jesus was dealing with a deaf man, there is only one word recorded in this prayer.  Instead, Jesus used gestures instead of words since the man could see the gestures and understand their meaning.

To begin our Relief and Release Prayer, look up toward heaven.

This act of looking up in prayer has many meanings as we see in the instances recorded from Jesus.  Here are some of the things it communicates:

Our thankfulness to God for what he has given us, for his power and for what he can do.

Our relationship with God as our Father.  The word Father is rich with meaning.  He is the one who gives us life and he is our sustainer, and our creator.  He loves us and wants his children to prosper and grow spiritually and to be set free from bondage.

Our acknowledgement that we believe God hears us and we will bear testimony to his power.

Our need for guidance and direction on what to pray and what to do.

When we look to heaven to begin our prayer, we don’t have to use fancy words of invocation.  Instead, make it a short but extremely meaningful gesture acknowledging who God is while looking away from ourselves and our earthly desires, remedies and fixes.

As you look up, name the qualities of God that are appropriate to your subject of prayer.  Examples: He hears us, he is worthy of trust and praise, he loves us, he desires healing, he is stronger than evil, he is the giver of all good things… The list is endless.

Step 3: Like Jesus, Let Out a Deep Sigh Prayer

Here again we find Jesus doing something that is more visual than audible in praying for the deaf man.  The man could see Jesus take a long breath.  And perhaps Jesus was close enough to the mute that the man actually felt the exhale of breath on his face.

Research tells us that sighs are usually something that happen automatically to express an emotion.  In the case of this type of prayer, the specific subject we praying about has already stirred our emotions and we have a great desire to see God intervene.

It may seem a little strange at first to consciously initiate a sigh, but it’s as simple as taking a deep breath and exhaling forcefully in a way that can be heard.  The sigh takes the place of having to form words and thoughts.  Instead, it simply expresses to God our longings.  In fact, we may be experiencing many different emotions. We may feel depressed, disappointed or frustrated about the subject of our prayers.  We may be anxious, worried or feel defeated or mournful.

Once you have sighed, allow a moment of pause to feel God in that moment.  Depending on the prayer, one sigh might be all that’s needed if you’re doing a quick arrow prayer to God when you encounter an urgent need for prayer.  Or in other cases, you might find a private place to sigh your prayers for a short period of time.

Please note that sigh prayers are very different than the meditative breath prayers.  In meditative breath prayers, you are seeking closeness to God in a calm, intentional way.

In this case, sigh prayers are a form of intercessory prayers, as mentioned in Romans 8:26.   “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”  (NIV)  In the case of our sigh, the Holy Spirit is taking over interpreting for us the layers and depths of emotion and longings that we hardly know are there or couldn’t possibly adequately describe in words.

Step 4: Like Jesus, end the deep sigh prayer with a word or exclamation

In Mark 7, after Jesus sighs deeply, he makes an emphatic command.  He says “Ephphatha!” which means “Open up!”  The result?  The deaf man can hear and speak plainly!

Notice the fact that the Bible includes an exclamation mark at the end of this sentence to show that Jesus said it with great emphasis.

We may start our prayer without an ending word in mind.  Let the Holy Spirit provide you with whatever it might be.

The phrase “open up” that Jesus used can be taken so many ways.  It’s about opening up the man’s ears and mouth so he can hear and speak.  But it can also be referring to the spiritual side of opening up the man to a new way or life, or opening up his understanding to grasp who Jesus is, or that God loves him and so much more.

Since this is a simple prayer practice, a few words are often the best.  On any given day the word might be:  Heal, Restore, Redeem, Convict, Prevent, Protect, Trust, Enlighten, Reveal, Revive, Forgive, Reconcile, Love, Breakthrough, Guide, Come Lord Jesus.

Step 5: Depend on God for the Results

As a word of caution, please be aware that this type of praying is not a magic formula.  It is simply an intercessory prayer technique to assist us in praying over difficult situations.  It is part of our arsenal of ways to intercede.  It can serve us well on many occasions as we learn to pray continually as the Holy Spirit guides us.

About This Relief and Release Prayer Using Deep Sigh Prayers

I discovered this prayer idea as I was reading the book of Mark.  I came to the healing of the deaf man in Mark 7:31-35.  I’ve read the book of Mark many times and to be honest, often all of the healings run together in my mind.

Mark’s writings are known for their swift pace emphasizing the deeds of Jesus.  That’s why I was intrigued that Mark put this detail into the story in verse 34, “Jesus looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, Ephphatha!”

In my research on sighs, I even found scientific research that has identified the part of the brain in which sighs are generated!  Scientists break sighs down into two types.  One is called basal and happens during normal breathing every few minutes without us ever noticing it.  The second group of sighs are reactions that happen when something triggers them such as stress, a sense of relief or other emotions.

Since basal sighs happen regularly without us knowing it, I wonder if such sighs have some sort of purpose in aiding our physical wellbeing and stability.  If so, they are a way of engaging our body and senses in intercessory prayer.

The second category of sighs are a physical reaction to emotion.  They can wordlessly communicate our inner feelings to people around us.  When people hear us sigh, they either read the meaning from the context of our conversation or ask us, “What’s wrong?”

If sighs have the ability to communicate, it makes sense that they are an avenue of communication with God that don’t require long explanations.

Other Helpful Articles

How to Stand in the Gap in Prayer

How to Pray Using Breath Prayers or Sentence Prayers

Using Powerful, Quick Arrow Prayers

Copyright Karen Barber 2023.  All rights reserved.