Contemplative and Centering Prayer

"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed."Mark 1:35

I Hold the Sun

Contemplative Prayer
Many of us react negatively to the suggestion of contemplative prayer.  One might respond to the suggestion by saying contemplative prayer is something they do in a monastery.  It is something done in a monastery but it is not limited to a monastery.  In contemplative prayer, we seek to open our mind and hands to the God.  It is a prayer of interior silence.  All of the prayer forms mentioned above involve action or conversation with God.  Contemplative prayer seeks silence.  This is what makes it seem difficult.  It can be very difficult to quiet ourselves.  We have so much going on in our lives.  This should not be an excuse to avoid contemplative prayer.  In fact, the more we have going on in our lives, the more we might benefit from contemplative prayer for it helps us find God in all the things of our lives.

Centering Prayer
Centering Prayer is one form of contemplative prayer.  It seeks to move beyond conversation with God to communion with God.  In Centering Prayer, we let our thoughts pass from us and sit in silence.  Does this sound impossible?  It did to mean.  That is why we have the technique of Centering Prayer to help us.  It involves relaxing ourselves and the use of a sacred word.  As we seek to enter into the silence, we do not fight off the thoughts (that is often what I want to do).  Rather, we let the thoughts pass through our minds without giving them any attention.  Thoughts will enter into our heads, there is nothing we can do about that.  It is part of being human.  What we can control is what we do with those thoughts.  Let them pass.

I have only just begun to explore Contemplative and Centering Prayer in my life.  The technique of Centering Prayer was developed as we know it today by three Trappist Monks in the 1970's; Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington, and Abbot Thomas Keating.

If you would like to learn more about Contemplative Prayer and Centering Prayer you can:

  • Check out Contemplative Outreach that was started by Fr. Thomas Keating
  • Or read Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel (Twentieth Anniversary Edition) by Fr. Thomas Keating published by Continuum Press in 2006

Other forms of liturgy and prayer include:

Here are some video presentations by Fr. Jeff on prayer: