Establishing a Practice of Centering Prayer
Centering Prayer is a method to prepare us for the gift of Contemplative Prayer. It is a discipline that removes the obstacles and opens us to greater intimacy in our relationship with God. It also brings about inner healing.
Experience has shown that the optimum time for this prayer is 20/30 minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning and one in the afternoon or early evening…the hinges of the day.
If you haven’t tried this way of praying before, we suggest you try it for 30 days. If in that time you don’t notice the difference… the people living with you will!
Preparation for the prayer period:
1) Pick a time when you are most alert.
2) Find a quite place where you will not normally be interrupted.
3) A short Scripture reading or relaxation exercise can help to dispose the mind for prayer. It also establishes us in the world-wide community of Prayer. Alternatively you may wish to recite slowly the Prayer Before Centering Prayer which is given on the Centering Prayer page of this web site.
During the Prayer time:
For the Prayer, follow the Method of Centering Prayer using the four guidelines.
If you fall asleep, continue the prayer for a few minutes upon waking, if you can spare the time.
You may also become aware of some physical symptoms in various parts of your body such as slight pains, itches, twitches or a generalised restlessness. These are usually due to the untying of emotional knots in the body. If you become aware of these sensations during the prayer time simply return to the Sacred Word.
Concluding the Prayer time:
The end of the prayer period can be indicated by a timer, provided it does not have an audible tick or a loud sound when going off. You may find it helpful to use a cassette tape or CD of quiet music that tapers off after 2 or 3 minutes and is timed to return again softly after 20/30 minutes. You may wish to conclude the prayer time by reciting slowly the Lord’s Prayer.
Further Useful Reading Material
- Lectio Divina: M. Basil Pennington.
- Too Deep for Words: Thelma Hall.
- Intimacy With God: Thomas Keating.
- Finding Grace at the Center: M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke
- Active Meditations for Centering Prayer: Fr. Thomas Keating.