Centering Prayer

PRAYER: Private Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 25, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer Choose a text of the scriptures that you wish to pray.  Many Christians use in their daily lectio Divina one of the readings from the Eucharistic liturgy for the day; others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible.  It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as one has no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text: the amount of text “covered” is in God’s hands, not yours. Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent.  Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; others have a beloved “prayer word” or “prayer phrase” they gently recite in order to become interiorly silent.  For some Centering [...]

PRAYER: The Underlying Rhythm Of Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 18, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer If we are to practice lectio Divina effectively, we must travel back in time to an understanding that today is in danger of being almost completely lost.  In the Christian past the words action (or practice, from the Greek praktikos) and contemplation did not describe different kinds of Christians engaging (or not engaging) in different forms of prayer and apostolates.  Practice and contemplation were understood as the two poles of our underlying, ongoing spiritual rhythm: a gentle oscillation back and forth between spiritual “activity” with regard to God and “receptivity.” Practice – spiritual “activity” – referred in ancient times to our active cooperation with God’s grace in [...]

PRAYER: The Process Of Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 11, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer A very ancient art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio Divina – a slow, contemplative praying of the scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God.  This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, enabling us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm.  Within this rhythm we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves to God, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. Lectio (reading / listening) The art of lectio Divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear “with [...]

PRAYER: The Prodigal Father by M. Basil Pennington

February 4, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer As Jesus spoke a very mixed crowd gathered around.  On the fringes were the big shots, the Pharisees who had all the answers, the scribes who knew the law, and the priests, the holy ones.  They looked down on the motley crew pressing in to hear Jesus – a sinful crowd that did not know the law. What was more painful to Jesus was the fact that many of the poor little ones who were listening to him readily believed that they were indeed the sinful ones.  They knew their sins too well.  They longed to hear words that would bring them peace. Jesus told them then this story. A rich man had two sons.  The older was a very righteous lad, painfully faithful to his duties.  He knew he was the firstborn [...]

PRAYER: It Begins With Faith by M. Basil Pennington

January 28, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer Through this little book we have been listening to the Lord.  Jesus has told us that he and the Father dwell with us, that they want to refresh us, that all things are ours and we are God’s.  We can believe all that, we know it is all true, because God has given us the gift we call faith. Faith is the ability the Lord gives us to know something is true because God has said it.  It is a precious gift because it lets us in on a whole lot – really, on the whole story: “I have made known to you all that my Father has made known to me.” Like our muscles or our minds, faith is a gift that grows by use.  Faith comes from hearing and it grows by hearing.  Each day we want to grow in faith.  [...]

PRAYER: Coming Home by M. Basil Pennington

January 21, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer One of the young men who headed east in the course of the fifth century was a wealthy young man from Dalmatia who had gone to Rome to study – John Cassian by name.  John traveled widely in what we call today Asia Minor and Syria, and finally he settled in a monastery near Bethlehem.  But he was far from satisfied.  He set out again on a seven-year quest only to return to his monastery still filled with longing.  His third journey took him into the depths of the Egyptian desert where he sought out the fabled fathers of the desert.  There he came upon a wise old man who was said to be the holiest, oldest, and wisest of the fathers: Abba Isaac. John and his traveling companion Little Herman [...]

PRAYER: The True Self by M. Basil Pennington

January 14, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer When we were born – of course, most of us don’t remember it for ourselves, though it is all written deep in our memories – we experienced ourselves as little bundles of need.  We needed warmth, we needed stroking, we needed nurture.  All these things were very important to us.  And we yowled to get them. And most of us got them. Our consciousness expanded.  The persons who supplied these needs became very important to us.  There was a deep bonding. As we grew and our consciousness continued to expand, we became aware of how important were the things we did, our doings.  We learned that if we acted in a certain way, people would give us what we wanted.  If we kept certain people happy with [...]

PRAYER: Lord, Where Are You? by M. Basil Pennington

January 7, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer History repeats itself.  We’ve all heard that.  We ask the same questions others have asked before us.  We seek the same things others have sought before us: A meaning for our lives, friends, and some kind of relationship with God that grounds all the rest. We look for a wise person who has some answers and who shows by the peace in his eyes and the serene joy in his face that these are answers that work. In recent years a lot of men and women have headed to the Far East in search of those answers.  They have gone off to India, Thailand, and even more exotic places.  Some have found something, but most have returned home to their own roots. This isn’t the first time men and women have gone [...]

PRAYER: Ways Of Praying (4) — Prayers of Intention (includes centering prayer and hourly prayer) by Andrew Dreitcer

January 31, 2013

From Prayer Practices for the Way of Peace:Choosing Peace Through Daily Practices (This is a continuation of a piece, the first part of which was posted on an earlier date.) As I have suggested, the Christian tradition has developed a richness of prayer.  There may be a form of prayer for every sensibility.  In this section, I present a number of ways of praying that may be practiced in order to help form an interior foundation for peace in oneself and in the world. Prayers of Intention Prayers of intention are about being there, being available.  The heart of such a prayer is this recognition: “I want to place myself in God’s presence.”  With this recognition, then, comes a practice conveyed by these words: “I am placing [...]

PRAYER: Finding Grace at the Center by Thomas E. Clarke

December 15, 2012

From Grace at the Center One of the exercises of interiority which has come into favor in the past few years in the United States has been termed the centering prayer.  Like other recent approaches to prayer, most of which have been influenced by Zen Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, or other currents of eastern spirituality, it directs the focus of mind and spirit inward, toward the self, the center, the still-point.  Non-discursive in character, these approaches yield not a new rational understanding so much as a certain stillness, peace, joy, freedom, awareness. Such exercises may or may not constitute prayer.  It is well known that some of them are being used for such worldly purposes as winning hockey games and earning a faster [...]

PRAYER: Orientations — B. Forms of Solitary Prayer, by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and S. Marie Schwan

August 13, 2012

From Birth: A Guide for Prayer Orientations Lord, teach us to pray. (Luke 11:1) Prayer is our personal response to God’s presence. We approach the Lord reverently with a listening heart. God speaks first. In prayer, we acknowledge the Divine presence and in gratitude respond to God in love. The focus is always on God and on what God does. The following suggestions are offered as ways of supporting and enabling attentiveness to God’s Word and our unique response. B. FORMS OF SOLITARY PRAYER There are various forms of scriptural prayer. Different forms appeal to different people. Eventually, by trying various methods, we become adept at using approaches that are appropriate to particular passages and are in harmony with our personality [...]

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER: Unity vs. Wholeness

December 16, 2011

I took the following definition of centering prayer off the website Centering Prayer, ostensibly the website dedicated to the teachings of Father Thomas Keating, one of the priests who began the teaching of contemplative prayer in the modern age.  The definition goes: Centering prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself.  This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. I find within this definition a perfect expression of our relationship with God: through this kind of prayer we experience [...]