There is no right or wrong way to practice this form of prayer. Do not judge your prayer time in any way. Feel free to adapt the above guidelines to enhance your daily prayer time.
The Practice of Centering Prayer
(silent prayer, sometimes referred to as meditation or contemplative prayer)
Time & place
Decide on a regular time to pray this prayer. Ideally, you pray twice a day, morning and evening, but this is dependent on individual circumstances. Choose a place where you will be comfortable and not disturbed.
Choose your “Sacred Word”
What special words have power to lift your eyes to God and your heart to the Spirit? In centering prayer, we use a single word to focus on God and prepare ourselves for the gift of God’s presence. Choose a sacred word that represents your desire for God or God’s yearning for you. A simple word is best, such as Lord, God, Father, Spirit, love, peace or beloved. Choose one word, not a phrase.
Preparing For Centering Prayer
Begin by asking the Lord to teach you how to still and quiet your soul. Remember that this will take time and practice. Do not strive or fall into self-effort, for your part is to simply open yourself to Him and to the work of His Holy Spirit in you. For now, simply ask Him to bless you, protect you, guide you … as you spend this time with Him. Know that it is His good pleasure to help you learn to draw near to Him!
Sit comfortably, relaxed and yet alert, back supported. Keep your chin up: this keeps your airways open, and stops you falling asleep! Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Consciously release any muscle tension you become aware of. Breathe in peace, breathe out tension. Close your eyes.
Centering Prayer Time
Turn your attention to God’s presence. Let yourself be fully aware of God’s love that always surrounds you. As you become relaxed, silently and gently offer your sacred word to God as a sign of your desire for, and consent to, God’s presence and action within you.
In the silence you will become aware of thoughts, memories, feelings or images. Instead of fighting them, or engaging with them, just let them go. Gently return to your sacred word.
It is helpful to use a recording like the one provided below, so you don’t have to be concerned about timing your prayer. It includes some music, to help you quieten down, then 3 chimes, to indicate the start of the actual centering prayer, which is 20 minutes of silence on the recording, and then 3 chimes, to indicate the end of the time of silent prayer, and a song.
At the end of the prayer time, slowly allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings once again.
End with the Lord’s Prayer or some other prayer from your heart. Close your prayer time by thanking God for His presence and love.