34 – Centering Prayer – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Can it be prayer if “We do not give God information about all our needs, projects, ideas, programs,  plans and agenda.  We don’t suggest things we would like Him to do.”?  (Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook”, p 208)  If you grew up in a religious culture similar to mine, prayer was always equated with words, with speech.  Whether it was silent or spoken it was still a form of speech.  Centering prayer offers a person a way to begin to move beyond speech to sitting in the presence of God.  With our full intention, we sit in the presence of God giving him our undivided love and attention.

Centering prayer offers a number of simple guidelines for this practice.  The following guidelines are taken from a brochure you can fine online at


1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.

2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.

3. When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.

4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes

It is most often suggested that one practice Centering Prayer for twenty minutes twice a day.  Other than this being virtually a “wordless” prayer, the time suggested gets the most reaction from those encountering it the first time.

If this prayer draws you, you may want to consider doing it for a week or month before you decide if the form fits you.  While we all need to find a place of silence in our lives, I will not claim that Centering Prayer will be the way to silence for everyone.

You can find more information on Centering Prayer in a number of books by Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington, and at the website http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org.

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