Practice@People's: Centering Prayer

This month on our blog we're looking at Centering Prayer, an ancient Christian spiritual practice that many people are rediscovering as  mindfulness meditation is gaining in popularity. Centering Prayer is a great way to try out this practice within the tradition of our Christian faith.

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For Jesus prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love, returning to love.  Trusting that love is the bottom stream of reality.  That’s why prayer isn’t primarily words; It’s primarily a place (center), an attitude, a stance.  That’s why Paul could say, ‘Pray always. Pray unceasingly.’ If we find the stream and know how to wade in the waters, the stream will flow through us, and all we have to do is consciously stay there.
— Richard Rohr

A reflection on Centering Prayer by PUMC Discipleship team member Pam McIntyre:

Centering Prayer is connecting with God in silence.  Silence is God’s first language.  When I first learned about Centering Prayer, it surprised me how simple it was.  You sit in silence and let the Holy Spirit within you connect with God.  Simple, yes; easy, no.  It takes practice.  The promise of Centering Prayer is that if you show up, things will start to change—but maybe not the way you expect.  Everyone’s journey is different. 

The fruits of this prayer are in daily life.  You become more flexible, more forgiving, more honest.  These are signs that your inner depths have been touched and have begun to set in motion their transformative work.

Here is how to practice Centering Prayer:

1. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, breathing naturally, relaxing deeply.  Become aware of your love and desire for God in this moment.

2. Choose a word or phrase that expresses your intention to be open to God’s presence. Some examples of the word include: "Peace," "Hope," "Trust," "Be," or simply, "Jesus." Pick any word that is meaningful to you.

3. Hold the word gently, without speaking, repeating it in your mind slowly.

4. Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, sensations) acknowledge this interruption without judgment, then simply return to the word, which symbolizes your intention.

5. Gradually let the word fall away as you slip in to silence.  Rest in silence.

6. Continue in silence as long as you wish.  (20 minutes twice a day is suggested by many teachers.)

 

 

Kate Sweet