In this journey with Centering Prayer, a friend of mine sent me this very helpful guide for spending 20 minutes with God. As you look at your schedule the next few days, can you set aside 20 minutes? You won’t be disappointed…
Centering Prayer Guidelines
- Sit comfortable in a quiet place where you are not liable to be interrupted. Place your feet flat on the floor and keep your hands loosely folded in your lap or flat on your knees. It is better to use a chair with a moderately soft covering and without close fitting arms. Your eyes should be closed and your head held at a comfortable angle. If you have some illness or physical disability, sit or lie in whatever way that suits your condition.
- Take a moment to relax. It is helpful to take three deep breathes. Fill your lungs by expanding your stomach. Hold the breath for about five seconds and then slowly exhale. Do this three times. I usually do this with a very brief prayer to each person of the Blessed Trinity. First breath: “In the name of the Father;” second: “In the name of the Son;” third: “In the name of the Holy Spirit.”
- Say a brief prayer in your own words expressing your love for God and your desire to spend these few moments embracing God in your love. Let it be something like this:
Dear Father in heaven, I love you. I want to love you more. I know that you love me and you have given me the grace to want to spend these twenty minutes in your presence. I have chosen the prayer word, Abba, Father, to express this love I have for you. In the power of your Holy Spirit and united to your son, Jesus Christ, I will now offer you my love through this prayer.
- Next, calmly, peacefully, and lovingly listen with the ears of your heart to your prayer word as you allow it silently to repeat itself. Do not whisper it out loud or even use your tongue or lips. Realize that by this word you are expressing your love for God. Continue to do this fifteen or twenty minutes or longer if you feel called to do so.
- Whenever distractions come (Miss Imagination or Miss Memory) and you find that you have given in to them and allowed your prayer word to stop, simply say: “I will go back to my prayer word,” and do so. Do this as often as is necessary-even many, many times during a twenty-minute meditation.
- If, during this prayer of your loving search, you should fall asleep, just thank God for the blessing of sleep and go back to your prayer word. Do not be concerned about this-God is not!
- Sometimes you will “transcend” your prayer word. That is, your will will be silently loving God in her dark chamber, your prayer word will have stopped, and you will be in silent repose, loving God without words and without symbols. This is fine. When you realize that you have done this, just say: “I will go back to my prayer” and do so. Time will pass very quickly when this happens.
- When you think your time is up, look at your watch. If you still have a few minutes, go back to your prayer until twenty minutes is up. Then very slowly begin to say the Our Father, so that it takes you a full two minutes to say it. If you find that you would like to go back to your loving prayer, and you have the time, do so otherwise your prayer is finished.