Centering Prayer

One of my wife’s favorite spiritual disciplines is the practice of Centering Prayer.  Here is how Barbara describes it:

We think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words to God: requests, intercession, thanksgiving, etc.  Centering Prayer is different. It is almost wordless.  As we enter the quiet, we believe that we are in His loving presence and we respond by opening to God: opening our hearts, minds, and our awareness to His presence

Centering Prayer has its roots in the lives and prayers of the Desert Fathers. These men were orthodox Christians who lived mostly in the deserts of Egypt starting in the third century. In one form or another, the spiritual discipline of Centering Prayer has been practiced ever since.  The practice was formalized and popularized by three Trappist monks in the 1970’s.  William Meninger, Basil Pennington, and Thomas Keating published a number of books that brought structure and definition to the practice.  Father Keating describes Centering Prayer as follows:

Centering Prayer is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. This method of prayer is a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.

I [Bob] have been practicing Centering Prayer for 4 years. 20 minutes a day I attempt to spend time just in adoration of my Lord in silence. But most of the time, my mind is far from silent. My mind goes 100 MPH to a hundred different places. And yet, although the progress has been slight, I have been able to be more aware of the Holy Spirit throughout my busy day in some very significant ways since I began this discipline.  And I attribute it to this spiritual discipline.

The method of Centering Prayer is best summarized in a brochures published by Thomas Keating.  It is available as a PDF from Contemplative Outreach (http://www.cpt.org/files/WS%20-%20Centering%20Prayer.pdf).