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“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)

According to Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO,
Centering Prayer is the Prayer of Consent.
He describes it this way ...

Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate the development of Contemplative Prayer by preparing our faculties to receive this gift.  It is an attempt to present the teaching of earlier times in an updated form.  Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; rather, it casts a new light and depth of meaning on them.   It 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.

Centering Prayer Guidelines
Theological Background
Listening to the Word of God in Scripture
Wisdom Saying of Jesus
Ways to Deepen our Relationship With God
What Centering Prayer Is and Is Not 

Theological Background

The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to Contemplative 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.  It tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.

Contemplative Prayer ...

We may think of prayer
as thoughts or feelings expressed in words.  But this is only one expression.
In the Christian tradition Contemplative Prayer
is considered to be
the pure gift of God. 

It is the opening of mind and heart – our whole being –
to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words
and emotions. 

Through grace, we open
our awareness to God
whom we know by faith
is within us
– closer than breathing,      closer than thinking,
       closer than choosing –
closer than consciousness itself.

Listening to the Word of God in Scripture

Listening to the word of God in Scripture (Lectio Divina) is a traditional way of cultivating friendship with Christ.  It is a way of listening to the texts of Scripture as if we were in conversation with Christ and He were suggesting the topics of conversation.  The daily encounter with Christ and reflection on His word leads beyond mere acquaintanceship to an attitude of friendship, trust, and love.  Conversation simplifies and gives way to communing.  Gregory the Great (6th century) in summarizing the Christian contemplative tradition expressed it as “resting in God.”  This was the classical meaning of Contemplative Prayer in the Christian tradition for the first sixteen centuries.

Wisdom Saying of Jesus

Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: 

“…But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you.” (Mt 6:6)

It is also inspired by writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative heritage, including John Cassian, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux and Thomas Merton.

Ways to Deepen Our Relationship With God

  • Practice two 20-30 minute periods of Centering Prayer daily

  • Listen to the Word of God in Scripture and study Open Mind, Open Heart.

  • Select one or two of the specific practices for everyday life as suggested in Open Mind, Open Heart, Chapt. 12.

  • Join a weekly Centering Prayer group.  It encourages members of the group to persevere in their individual practice.  It provides an opportunity for further input on a regular basis through tapes, readings and discussion.  It offers an opportunity to support and share the spiritual journey.

What Centering Prayer Is Not

  • It is not a technique but a way of cultivating a relationship with God.  

  • It is not a relaxation exercise but it may be refreshing.  

  • It is not a form of self-hypnosis but a way to quiet the mind while maintaining its alertness.  

  • It is not a charismatic gift but a path of transformation.  

  • It is not a para-psychological experience but an exercise of faith, hope and selfless love.

  • It is not limited to the “felt” presence of God but is rather a deepening of faith in God’s abiding presence.  

  • It is not reflective or spontaneous prayer, but simply resting in God.

NOTE:  This material comes from a brochure developed by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.