We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. In the Christian tradition Contemplative Prayer is considered to be the pure gift of God. It is the opening of mind and heart — our whole being — to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing — closer than consciousness itself.
Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate the development of Contemplative Prayer by preparing our faculties to receive this gift. It is an attempt to present the teaching of earlier times in an updated form. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; rather, it casts a new light and depth of meaning on them. It is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. This method of prayer is a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.
[Excerpts above are from “The Method of Centering Prayer: The Prayer of Consent” by Thomas Keating
© Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.]
Suggested Reading: Open Heart, Open Mind by Thomas Keating
The Four Steps of Centering Prayer
Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.
Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word.
When engaged with 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.
Courtesy of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.