“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”Jesus Christ, The Sermon on the Mount
Centering Prayer is a simple Christian practice that helps us to locate and take refuge in our “inner room,” consent to the presence of God-in-2nd-person, and lead us into deep prayer, devotion, and contemplation of the divine. Largely popularized in recent decades by Father Thomas Keating, Centering Prayer traces its origin to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers, the Lectio Divinia tradition of Benedectine monasticism, and to works like The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. It endures to this day as one of the Christian tradition’s most powerful contemplative practices.
Listen as Father Thomas offers a short guided practice of Centering Prayer.
Take 20 minutes out of your day, and do the following:
- Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within (e.g. God, Christ, I AM, Love, Now, Faith, Amen, etc.).
- 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.
- When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
- At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes, before returning to the rest of your day.
We’re all on a spiritual journey. As we mature as individuals, we may find that the spiritual containers that once held and inspired us no longer quite fit. Many of us seek out new traditions and practices as we move beyond our childhood religion. Or perhaps we stay in one lineage, struggling to make room for our evolution within it. As our inquiry gets deeper and broader, we may long for a community that nurtures every stage of our growth.
Many of us feel lonely as we work to revitalize our Christian faith for who we are now. As we attempt to bring the teachings of Jesus and the church into our 21st century awareness, we find ourselves seeking a new, shared reality with others. That’s why we have created this comprehensive web-based audio course, Coming Home: An Integral Christian Practicum with Leslie Hershberger.
Watch as Father Thomas Keating talks to Cynthia Bourgeault about how his own efforts around the Centering Prayer movement grew from this incredibly fertile ground, his hopes for the future of Christian spiritual practice, and the promise this newly-unfolding contemplative Christianity offers to the rest of the world.