Centering Prayer is a modernized prayer method based on the intuitive prayer rooted in Lectio Divina. It is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience the Divine’s immanent presence with us. Centering prayer is grounded in relationship with God, through Christ, and is a practice to nurture that relationship.
Centering Prayer compliments and supports other modes of prayer— verbal, mental or affective prayer. And facilitates resting in the Divine Presence. Centering Prayer offers a way to grow in intimacy with God, moving beyond conversation to communion.
As Thomas Keating emphasizes, 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. The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.
- Sit in an upright, attentive posture in a way that allows for an erect spine and open heart. Place hands in your lap.
- Gently close your eyes and bring to mind your sacred word, image or breath as your symbol to consent to the presence and action of God within you. Your sacred symbol is intended to be the same every time you pray. It helps to ground you in the present moment, allowing you to give your undivided loving, yielded attention to God. Choose a name for God or a characteristic for God like, Love, Peace, etc.
- Silently, with eyes closed, recall your sacred symbol to begin your prayer. As you notice your thoughts, gently return to your sacred word. Do this however many times you notice your thoughts.
- When your prayer period is over, transition slowly from your prayer practice to your active life.
It is recommended to pray in this fashion for a minimum of 20 minutes, two times a day. Start out slowly with initial prayer periods of five to ten minutes, working up to the desired length of time.
- A Beautiful Prayer: Answering Common Misperceptions about Centering Prayer, by Peter Traben Haas
- Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
- Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form by M. Basil Pennington
- Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer by Thomas Keating
- Journey to the Heart: Centering Prayer for Children by Frank Jelenek
- Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating
- The Heart of Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault
- The Path of Centering Prayer: Deepening Your Experience of God by David Frenette
- Visit Contemplative Outreach to download an introductory pamphlet on Centering Prayer
- Visit Meditation for Children if you would like to learn more about how to teach centering prayer or other silent meditation practice to children.
- World Community for Christian Meditation was established under the teaching of Benedictine monk John Main. To learn a slightly different method of this way of praying, visit their website.