Prayer Practices #3: Centring Prayer

During this fortnight, Matt will be posting about some different prayer practices to help us continue our exploration of prayer and fasting. The posts will be short and, for the most part, practically-focused.


Centring Prayer

Credit: http://centeringprayer.tumblr.com/

Centring Prayer was simplified into a method in the 1970s by three Trappist monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Massachusetts, but it is based on more ancient practices, including Lectio Divina.

The source of Centering 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.[1]

Like Lectio Divina, the root of Centring Prayer is listening to the Word of God in Scripture. Centring Prayer is a way of going beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Christ. The guidelines for Centring Prayer are:[2]

  1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. This word should be 1–2 syllables (for example God, Jesus, Father, Mother, love, peace). The word is not sacred because of its inherent meaning, but because of the meaning we give it as an expression of intention to commune with God. We shouldn’t change the word throughout the prayer, since this would be to engage our thoughts. It is also possible to focus on one’s breath rather than a sacred word.
  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. We should introduce the sacred word as gently as possible.
  3. When engaged with your thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word. Such thoughts, which are a normal part of centring prayer, may include any perceptions, such as body sensations, feelings, images or reflections.
  4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. This helps us bring the silence into everyday life.

Centring Prayer should last for no less than 20 minutes. Additional resources are freely available.

Peace,
Matt


[1] “Theological Background” in Thomas Keating, The Method of Centering Prayer: The Prayer of Consent. Online at https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/sites/default/files/private/method_cp_eng-2016-06_0.pdf.
[2] Keating, The Method of Centering Prayer.

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