Centering Prayer

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

-- Martin Luther

Prayer is one of the most universal human activities. I've seen people pray at various locations in multiple forms all around the world. It is obvious that there are many forms of prayers even in the Christian faith tradition. Teresa A. Blythe wrote a book with the title, "50 Ways to Pray." She admits that there are far more number of way to pray. I agree that there are far more ways to pray even within the Christian context.

There are prayers that use words and sounds. There are also prayers that mainly involve thinking, called mental prayers. Then there are prayers, called contemplative prayers, that use no words, images, or sounds but just inner silence. It is based on Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God." And Jesus taught his disciples to pray in silence: "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:6)

Centering Prayer is a method that helps us to pray contemplative prayer which is a gift from God. In Centering Prayer, we simply sit in silence and return to silence (over and over again) when we notice we are engaged with thoughts, stories, and reflection. Father Keating, the founder of the Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., an organization that teaches Centering Prayer around the world, calls Centering Prayer, the Divine Therapy, since opening our hearts to God creates an inner space where the Holy Spirit can do the work of healing within us. (Revelation 3:20)

20 minutes of Centering Prayer, twice a day, can bring out deep inner transformation over time. The transformation happens without any efforts (except for praying Centering Prayer regularly) and even our awareness. A surprising result of praying Centering Prayer is ever increasing sense of peace with oneself and love for God and people. (Matthew 22:36-39) I hope to offer a workshop on Centering Prayer during Advent as well as online Centering Prayer practice group starting from November.

I love praying. Integrating short prayers throughout my day helps me to be grounded in God's love. But Centering Prayer is by far the most beloved spiritual practice for me.