What is Centering Prayer?

October 6, 2022 | Jeff Coleman

If I told you sitting quietly in God’s presence could change your life, would you believe me? Would your curiosity be piqued? Would you give it a try? When it comes to the problems in life most of us work them out by using logic, reasoning, and words, which are necessary, but I am discovering there is another way. It’s called centering prayer.

Centering prayer is an ancient form of wordless prayer that is easy to describe, but difficult to fully implement. When most people, especially those of us raised in Protestant evangelical traditions, think about prayer we often imagine prayer lists and/ or long-winded “pastoral prayers” that droned on endlessly.  

Centering prayer, however, is none of these. It is a simple practice that offers us a way to emphasize our relationship with God through Christ by simply sitting in silence and resting ourselves in the love of God.  

My own journey into centering prayer began with a foundational realization. God loves me and wants to be with me. God is not mad at me. In short, God longs to be in our presence and longs for us to be in His.

Learning to simply rest in God’s abundant love and silencing our minds can be a difficult undertaking. The benefits, however, will be a harvest of peace, calmness, rest, and a deepening assurance of God’s abiding goodness and presence.  

Here’s how you can change your life by sitting quietly in God’s presence.

  1. Pick a time of day: Preferably when you’re least likely to be interrupted. Morning, lunch hour, late afternoon when you get home from work, or before bed, it doesn’t matter. I find that mornings work best for me. Find a time and make it non-negotiable.
  2. Pick a spot: Sit somewhere that is comfortable but won’t let you fall asleep. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, hands in your lap, and eyes closed.
  3. Pick a “sacred” word: This is not a mantra or a phrase to be repeated endlessly, but rather it’s a word designed to re-center your thoughts when they wander (and they will). I use the name of Jesus. When my mind wanders and it does more than I care to admit, I gently say the name of Jesus and allow this gesture to center me again on the One who’s presence I am sitting in.
  4. Set a realistic amount of time: I began with three minutes as I wanted to set myself up for success. I placed my phone on airplane mode, set a timer for three minutes, closed my eyes, and began.

So, why even bother doing this when you have a to do list a mile long, bills to pay, errands to run, meetings to conduct, clients to see, kids to be fed, laundry to be done, emails to answer, and a host of other things screaming for our attention?

The answer is found in the question itself. Because there are so many things clamoring for our attention these days the act of centering our fractured attention on the One who knows us better than we know ourselves, knows what we need before we ask, and loves us more than we will ever love ourselves is exactly why we desperately NEED this centering moment to do what Mary did, which was sitting “ . . . at the Lord’s feet, listening . . .” (Luke 10:39).

Interested to learn more about Centering Prayer? Check the following:

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