Centering Prayer

Set an intention to become open to God’s presence

by Lauren Hales

At Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal) in Memphis, Tennessee, a faithful group with representatives from congregations all over the city have been meeting on the first Saturday of every month for Centering Prayer for the last 17 years. The group knows each other well, having spent much time together in prayer, contemplation, and joy. They are a chapter of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.,—an international network of individuals and faith communities committed to living and practicing the contemplative dimension of the Christian life through outreach and education on centering prayer.

The power of becoming quiet and opening yourself to God’s word is a perfect complement for the other more active forms of Christian prayer.

Each meeting follows the same routine: coffee and refreshments begin at 9:00, and at 9:30 the bell calls everyone to the chapel for two 20-minute centering prayer periods with a contemplative walk in between. During a following 30-minute silent coffee break, group members roam the church, walk the indoor labyrinth, or quietly read or journal. The morning ends with a 20-minute period of Lectio Divina on the week’s gospel lesson. For the members of this centering prayer group, these Saturdays are a sacred time of prayer and communion with God.

Centering prayer, group members explain, is a multifaceted meditation that sets an intention to silence your mind and heart to become open to God’s presence. It is a method to facilitate contemplative prayer, a guide to slowing down in your daily life in order to recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord. The power of becoming quiet and opening yourself to God’s word is a perfect complement for the other more active forms of Christian prayer; it works on the heart and mind to deepen one’s relationship with the living Christ. Most practitioners of centering prayer begin by choosing a sacred word, such as “Abba,” to focus on during their intentional prayer time. During that period, they gently return to their sacred word when thoughts wander, each time remembering their intention to open their hearts to God’s presence.

This First Saturday Centering Prayer group at Church of the Holy Communion is both outreach and ministry for the parish. Through embracing the practice of contemplative prayer and opening their doors to Memphians from all over the city, they set an example in spiritual formation that congregations can easily embrace.

Interested in learning more about centering prayer or having your congregation host a group?
Check out these resources:
Contemplative Outreach: contemplativeoutreach.org (or download their mobile app)
The World Community for Christian Meditation: wccm.org (or download their app)
Center for Action and Contemplation: cac.org
The Shalem Institute: shalem.org

Tagged under:

Share on: