In the hustle and bustle of modern life, finding moments of genuine peace and deep spiritual connection can seem like a quest for the holy grail. Yet, amidst the noise and distractions, there lies a path to tranquility and closeness with the divine: Centering Prayer. This method of prayer, deeply rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition, invites us into a profound communion with God, beyond the confines of thoughts, words, and emotions. It is a journey towards the essence of prayer itself, as expressed in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
The Heart of Contemplative Prayer
Contemplative prayer transcends the traditional forms of prayer that rely on words to express thoughts and feelings. It is the gift of opening our whole being to God, the Ultimate Mystery, who is closer to us than our very breath. This form of prayer invites us to let go of our mental activities and rest in the presence of God, who dwells within us, waiting to reveal Himself in the silence beyond our conscious reach.
Embracing Centering Prayer
Centering Prayer serves as a bridge to the gift of contemplative prayer. It is a discipline that prepares us to receive the grace of God’s presence by teaching us to let go of the constant chatter of our minds and the distractions of our environment. This method does not seek to replace other forms of prayer but to deepen and enrich them, guiding us from conversation with Christ to a more profound communion with Him.
The Theological Roots
The practice of Centering Prayer is anchored in the indwelling Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Its focus is on fostering a deeper relationship with Christ, contributing to the formation of communities bound by faith, mutual love, and friendship. The roots of Centering Prayer stretch back to the rich soil of Christian mysticism, including the reflective practice of Lectio Divina and the wisdom of saints and mystics across centuries.
The Practice of Centering Prayer
The guidelines for Centering Prayer are simple yet profound:
- Select a Sacred Word: Choose a word that signifies your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within you.
- Sit Comfortably and Close Your Eyes: Introduce the sacred word as a symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
- Gently Return to the Sacred Word: Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, gently return to your sacred word.
- Conclude with Silence: After the prayer time, remain in silence for a few minutes, allowing the peace of the prayer to permeate your being.
This practice is not about achieving a particular state of consciousness or having a specific spiritual experience but about opening ourselves to the presence of God beyond all thoughts and sensations.
Living the Fruits of Centering Prayer
The true fruits of Centering Prayer are not found in the moments of silence but in the transformation that unfolds in our daily lives. As we deepen our practice, we may find ourselves more present, compassionate, and responsive to the needs of others, bearing witness to the love and peace that flow from our communion with God.
What Centering Prayer Is Not
It’s crucial to understand what Centering Prayer is not. It is not a technique for relaxation or a means to achieve a psychological breakthrough. Instead, it is a way of faith, a surrender to God’s presence, a path of transformation that deepens our relationship with the divine.
Deepening the Journey
To further deepen the relationship with God through Centering Prayer, practitioners are encouraged to engage in two daily prayer periods, immerse themselves in Scripture, and connect with others through prayer groups. These practices help to sustain and enrich the journey of faith, drawing us closer to God and to each other.
Centering Prayer is an invitation to rest in God, to experience His presence in the silence of our hearts. It offers a way to navigate the challenges of life with grace, rooted in the deep awareness of God’s abiding love. As we open ourselves to this silent communion, we find our truest selves in the loving gaze of the Divine, transforming our lives from the inside out.