Centering Prayer

WHAT

C.S. Lewis once noted, A concentrated mind and a sitting body make for better prayer than a kneeling body and a mind half asleep.” The discipline of quieting our thoughts before God through contemplation or meditation on a “prayer word,” which is a word or phrase from the Scriptures that describes who God is. Centering prayer quiets our hearts and helps us to find peace and rest in God.

WHY

When we practice centering prayer it helps us recognize how much we truly need God and His presence in our lives. When we see our humanity and how unable we are to let go of our thoughts, we become aware of our dependence on God, how badly we need Him. When we are intentional about spending time in prayer it causes us to stay intimately connected with God. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6).

HOW 

Step 1: Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Sit with your back straight, feet on the floor, hands resting in your lap. Take a deep breath and open your mind and heart. Allow your body to relax. Begin to notice your breath flowing in and out at its natural rhythm.

Step 2: Choose a word that focuses on an attribute or characteristic of who God is to help you intentionally be open to God’s presence. Choose any word with which you are comfortable to remind you to be present to the presence of God. Examples of a sacred word: Stillness, Rest, Trust, Hope, Father, Jesus, Love, Listen, Peace, Surrender, Let Go. Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, silently begin to repeat the word, which guides your heart and mind gently towards God’s presence, grounding you in the moment. If you feel your thoughts begin to drift, focus on the word you’ve chosen and how it relates to who God is. When you feel your heart and mind are ready, you can let go of the word and simply rest in His presence.

Step 3: At the end of your time of prayer, remain in silence with your eyes closed for a couple more minutes. If you would like, you can simply rest in silence, silently say your own closing prayer. Then transition into your daily life.

FIRST STEP

Create a space in your home or office where you can be comfortable and quiet, if possible with a door that can be closed. Start by carving out 10 minutes to begin practicing Centering Prayer. Pause to remember how you feel after intentionally focusing on a characteristic or attribute of who God is in your life.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS:

Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form by Basil Pennington
Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God by Patricia D. Brown