Sometimes we are lost for words. The words we need just will not come. We are reduced to silence. Silence, however, can be eloquent. This can sometimes happen in our relationship with God when the words just dry up. We have to go beyond words and we have to listen. Centering Prayer is one way of doing this.
Centering Prayer is a non-verbal and non-conceptual, Christian method of praying. Ideas and words are not needed. As a prayer of silence, it draws upon the rich Christian heritage of contemplative prayer. It differs from some others forms of silent prayer in that it is a prayer of intention more than a prayer of attention.
The prayer has its roots in the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Mt: 6.6 NRSV)
In the early centuries of Christianity, the desert Fathers and Mothers withdrew from society to contemplate and deepen their relationship with God. Eventually, monasteries began to appear and contemplative practice flourished. In this contemplative tradition, Centering Prayer, as we know it, is based upon the anonymous fourteenth century English spiritual classic, “The Cloud of Unknowing”.
This introduction is based on the writings of Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk who is an authority on Centering. It defines prayer as a relationship with God. The method of centering is introduced and the prayer itself is practised. The use of a sacred word is explained. Dealing with thoughts, feelings and distractions is dealt with and participants are shown how to read the signs of a deepening relationship with God. Centering is a stress free prayer in which we allow God to transform us. God does all the work. All we need to do is to consent.
This programme is suitable for beginners and will provide a clear and very gentle introduction to Centering Prayer.