Centering Prayer* is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer fosters both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal or mental prayer — into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.
Centering Prayer Guidelines
- Choose a prayer word, phrase or symbol that sums up your desire to be with God, to rest in Him, to be at home. The choice is a matter of prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to lead you to one that is especially suited to you. Simple words such as Jesus, Abba, Father, Love, Listen, Peace, Mercy … are best. Symbols such as the cross, a dove, the open tomb… also work well.
- Sit comfortably. Be attentive in faith and love to God who dwells, through Christ, in the depths of your being. Gently and tenderly offer your entire self and your prayer to God. It may be helpful to close your eyes as you open your heart.
- When you become aware of anything else (our minds tend to drift to the things of this world) simply return to the Lord by using your prayer word, phrase, or symbol. Doing so keeps you open to God and allows Him to be present in any way He chooses. Don’t berate yourself for having thoughts or being distracted. God knows that you will. Have mercy and deal gently with the clutter that distracts you from your desire to be with God.
- At the end of the prayer period, sit quietly with your eyes closed to help bring a sense of quiet into your daily life. You may wish to close with the Lord’s Prayer, a few phrases from Psalms, or another prayer that is meaningful to you.
- You may want to journal about your experience.
* Adapted from www.contemplativeoutreach.com