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 is 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, mental or affective 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.
The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the Indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The focus of Centering Prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ.
The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.
"What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent
before this great God with our appetites and our tongue,
for the language He best hears is silent love."
(St John of the Cross - Maxims and counsels, 53)
How Do I Begin The Centering Prayer Method Today?
Here is a brief description of the four guidelines to help you enter into the method of centering prayer: If you think this prayer is for you, we find it helps to attend a Centering Prayer Introductory Program and join a prayer group in your area.
1. Choose a sacred word/symbol as the sign of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
The sacred word expresses our intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
The sacred word is chosen during a brief period of prayer asking the Holy Spirit to inspire us with one that is especially suitable for us.
Examples: God, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Mary, Amen
Other possibilities: Love, Listen, Peace, Mercy, Let Go, Silence, Stillness, Faith, Trust
Instead of a sacred word, a simple inward glance toward the Divine Presence or noticing one’s breath may be more suitable for some persons. The same guidelines apply to these symbols as to the sacred word.
The sacred word is sacred not because of its inherent meaning, but because of the meaning we give it as the expression of our intention and consent.
Having chosen a sacred word, we do not change it during the prayer period because that would be to start thinking again.
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
“Sitting comfortably” means relatively comfortably so as not to encourage sleep during the time of prayer.
Whatever sitting position we choose, we keep the back straight.
We close our eyes as a symbol of letting go of what is going on around and within us.
We introduce the sacred word inwardly as gently as laying a feather on a piece of absorbent cotton.
Should we fall asleep upon awakening we continue the prayer.
3. When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word or symbol.
"Thoughts” is an umbrella term for every perception, including body sensations, sense perceptions, feelings, images, memories, plans, reflections, concepts, commentaries, and spiritual experiences.
Thoughts are an inevitable, integral and normal part of Centering Prayer.
By “returning ever-so-gently to the sacred word” a minimum of effort is indicated. This is the only activity we initiate during the time of Centering Prayer.
During the course of Centering Prayer, the sacred word may become vague or disappear.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
The additional two minutes enables us to bring the atmosphere of silence into everyday life.
If this prayer is done in a group, the leader may slowly recite a prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer, while the others listen.
“Centering Prayer Pamphlet” © by Contemplative Outreach Ltd,