Article on Centering Prayer from The Contemplative Life

Jamie Massa, our resident Centering Prayer guru, shared this article with the Centering Prayer Group that meets on Tuesday mornings. If you’d like to join the group, you can learn more by following this link.

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer based on an anonymous 14th Century text called The Cloud of Unknowing, and has roots even further back in the writings of the Desert Fathers of Egyptian Monasticism.  It has recently been popularized by the Trappist monk Thomas Keating.  In The Cloud of Unknowing, the spiritual advisor describes a type of contemplative prayer in which one simply rests in the presence of God without an agenda.  He believes that this “contemplative work of love” is the way to a changed spirit and character – and thereby the spiritual fruits of love, joy, and peace.  By practicing Centering Prayer, one hopes to open themselves fully to the presence and action of God, experiencing authentic inner transformation in the process.

When practicing Centering Prayer, the goal is to calm the mind so that one can simply enter and remain in the presence of God, who is experienced within, at the deepest level of one’s being.  The method is designed to help take the practitioner to this deeper level of awareness, moving beyond the distracting and often chaotic stream of surface-level thoughts which are experienced in day-to-day life.  In its deepest form, the prayer is apophatic, having no “content” and making no use of words, symbols, images, or ideas.  The practice is often conceptualized as “resting in God.”

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