Tag Archives: Centering Prayer

Contemplative Prayer

I was directed to these 6 tips on Contemplative prayer by a fellow blogger. They were written by Carol Crumley who is Senior Program Director for Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. St. Benedict, a sixth century spiritual leader, advised his monks to “listen with the ear of the heart,” that is, to listen deeply, noticing the many ways God spoke to them in their daily activities as well as through scripture and worship. I share these 6 tips with you.

6 Tips on Contemplative Prayer

1. Establish a daily set-aside time when you can honor your desire to open to God. We recommend 20 minutes of silent prayer time daily. For some that might seem like a long time. For others, it may be way too short. The exact number of minutes is not that important. Start with what is right for you. The important thing is doing it daily.

Thomas-Merton-4.4.162. Create a set-aside place, a space that honors your intent, where you can sit comfortably and uninterrupted for your prayer time. This might be a prayer corner or even a prayer chair. If a chair, just make sure it is different from the one you sit in to watch television, work on your computer or take a nap. A different chair will help you be more alert and attentive in your prayerful listening. You might also place a candle or flower or image in your prayer space, something that helps draw your focus to God’s presence.

3. Begin with stretching and releasing any physical tensions. We carry the tensions of the day or night in our bodies. Notice the places in your body that are tight or constricted. Stretch into those places, hold for a moment or two, and then relax the tension. Sometimes a gentle body-stretching practice is all that is needed to quiet the mind and prepare the body for opening in prayer.

4. Notice your breath. Your breath is a spiritual tool that you always have with you. It is your most intimate connection with God. Sense your breath as a living instrument of God’s spirit, ever cleansing and inspiring. At any time or place, you can notice your breath. Is it rapid or slow? Shallow or deep? Just noticing and slowing your breath can quiet the mind and draw you deeper into the heart of God. It is the most fundamental practice in the spiritual life.

5. Open to God’s living presence, keeping your desire for your own and the world’s fullness in God before you in prayer. No words are needed. Simple, quiet openness and availability are enough. Trust that God’s healing, transforming power is at work whether you know it, you believe it, or not.

6. Find support for your spiritual life. Support can come in many forms. Listen to music that stirs your soul. Go to a museum and feast your eyes on great art. Walk in nature. Read some of the great classics by contemplative authors. Study the lives of the saints. Find a spiritual director who listens with you to the movement of the Spirit in your life. Attend worship services that nourish your spiritual heart. Seek out others who share a similar desire and join with them for dedicated times of prayer.

We live in a noisy, busy world. Quiet, silent prayer is counter to our culture and yet it offers the missing spiritual resource our souls need. Contemplative prayer is not just for ourselves alone. Eckhart Tolle reminds us that, “To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe.”

Contemplative Prayer is a way of being rather than something that we do, a way of being open to God all the time. As you return to your busy day, remember, there are no right ways or wrong ways to pray. You can trust whatever is simplest and feels most natural for you.

3 Comments

Filed under Contemplation, Prayer

Prayer for Silence

silence centeringJesus our peace, if our lips keep silence, our heart listens to you and also speaks to you. And you say to each one of us: surrender yourself in all simplicity to the life of the Holy Spirit; and with that surrender we may know you in a superlative way. Lord help me to observe a sacred silence. AMEN

1 Comment

Filed under Prayer, Silence

Finding Your Inner Room

Rome 5 June 08 (44)

Everyone needs and inner room, a place where you are with God and God alone. There is really only one way and that is by way of the prayer of quiet. You might begin by learning about centering prayer as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault or David Frenette, or meditation as taught by James Findlay and others.

 

There are four stages of prayer:

 

First: We speak, God listens. Oratio.

 

This would encompass all forms of prayer in words whether read aloud or quietly, or called to mind and recited either internally or externally. May include prayers of petition, thanksgiving, praise, forgiveness, etc.

 

Second: God speaks, we listen

 

. This would encompass reading and reflecting upon God’s word whether it be written as in scripture or as it is found in nature. This may lead to what westerners refer to as meditation, (meditatio) but not necessarily. At its best, this prayer is a meditation on the Word God is speaking to me at this moment. It may be as simple as noticing a roadrunner scurry across the road and reflecting upon the message the creature is bringing to me. It typically refers to taking a short scriptural passage and ruminating upon it until it breaks open.

 

Third: No one speaks, both listen.

 

This is the beginning of the prayer that leads to the inner room. Centering prayer fits this description as the purpose of this prayer is to gently, ever so gently, let go, repeatedly if need be, of thoughts while resting in the space between the thoughts. This is a prayer of letting go of the reigns, so to speak. One is open, receptively waiting upon the presence and action of the Holy One, without expectation. Be stll and know that I am God. We are not listening for any particular messages, in fact, all thoughts and feelings are released the moment we become aware that we have been carried away by them. We are simply being present to one another.

 

Fourth: No one speaks, no one listens. Silence.

 

Also referred to in the West as contemplation or contemplatio. This prayer is typically understood in Catholic circles to be pure gift and it is gift but the gift becomes more readily available to the ones who have fostered the space in which the gift can be received. This is the prayer of the inner room. Although most of us throughout our lives have tasted fleeting moments of this prayer outside of the context of prayer as it is being described here, nonetheless, one needs to cultivate an attitude of receptivity in order to experience this stage of prayer to which each and every one of us is called. It is not reserved for a few lofty souls. Mystical experience may happen for a few but they are not necessary and typically prove to be a hindrance to contemplation because the recipient tends get caught up in them and struggles to let go of them.

 

To find your inner room, you must shut the door and wait quietly, patiently, receptively, without expectations upon God.

 

For you Holy One, my soul in stillness waits.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

13 Comments

Filed under Centering Prayer, Prayer, Thomas Keating

Become a Person of Prayer

god

One of the most important habits a missional person can possess is being a person of prayer. As we live the missional life it is vital that we stay in touch with God. Prayer is communication with God. It is through prayer that we gather strength, insight and openness to be a missional people. For thousands of years people have prayed. Prayer has taken on different forms. Some people pray in silence. Others pray in groups. Still others pray using ancient rituals. How do you pray ? Do you pray ?

To pursue the missio dei (mission of God),prayer is a must. It is the very heart of the missional life.

What are the prayers of the missional person?

  • the presence of God
  • strength for the journey
  • for enemies
  • opportunities for service
  • personal sins
  • blessings of the day
  • people with needs

What are some ways to pray?

Just remember missional life begins with prayer. Let me suggest to you that you set aside 10 minutes a day for prayer. Try it this week. Start Sunday and keep this habit through the week and it could really change your life.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living, contemplative, Missional Living

Centering Prayer

Today I would like to imagine being alone or with a group of people who, alone or together, are in a quiet place with no background music, just simply sitting in silence for twenty minutes. They do not speak or pray aloud; there are no books or Ipads in their hands. They are not reading or writing. They are not busy with anything. They are there to allow God to fill their consciousness and give them peace. They do not pray with their lips but with their silent hearts and with their very being. This is a simple description of Centering Prayer.

Centering Prayer was first practiced by the ancient monastics of the desert, but it can still serve us today. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to listen for a word from God for twenty minutes? I would venture to say, that for most of us, twenty minutes of silence is an eternity. For me it has been a wonderful discovery of a peace that I never thought existed- a peace and tranquility that can only come from God. When I am silent and totally centered on hearing from God it seems as though I can feel the stress of life flowing out of me like a river emptying into an ocean. Perhaps it is one of the best spiritual practices that I have ever been challenged to master.

As twenty first century Christians, we often feel that God is best found in activity and motion, but it is time that we took a better look at the practices that built the church in its formative years. These practices sustained people who lived with harsh conditions and great persecution, a type of life that is unimaginable to us. These godly men and women found it necessary to commune with God in an intense way. For them, it was just God and God alone that guided and protected all.

Much of what I read and see tells me that Christianity as we know it is dying a fairly quick death. Perhaps the answer to the salvation of the faith is not found in mega churches or new ways of worship but in the rediscovering of the foundational tools of the movement. Centering prayer is one of those foundational practices that could change your life as it has changed mine.

Click Here for more about Centering Prayer

2 Comments

Filed under Ascetics, Centering Prayer, contemplative, Meditation, Prayer