But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 (NIV)
How often do we wonder whether we’re praying in a way that reaches the ears of God? I talked about this subject in my post, https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/are-we-praying-the-right-way/. Over the last decade, I’ve become a real student of prayer. I have a dozen half-read books to prove it. I think maybe I need to spend as much time on my focus & attention, as I do on prayer.
I think I’ve found a way to do both at the same time. It’s called Centering prayer. I don’t know if I can get my ever-wandering mind to stick with this, but I’m going to give it the ole college try!
In Centering prayer, our only job is to surrender & be still before God. For 20 minutes, twice a day. Are you serious? Does God really expect us to have no thoughts for twenty minutes? We have a ‘SACRED’ word that we say to ourselves whenever we find ourselves thinking of anything other than God’s presence within us. My sacred word for this week is “divine”. I’ve tried several different sacred words trying to keep myself centered with God. Like I said, I’m still a work in progress.
Those who have practiced meditation will recall the mantra we keep repeating to keep our mind free of thoughts. Do not be confused though! The sacred word is NOT a mantra. It is consent to letting God enter our mind & heart.
No praise. No thanksgiving. No intercession. No petitions. That’s how we all learned to pray. God still loves and expects those prayers…but not during Centering prayer. It’s a type of Contemplative prayer. We don’t do the talking. We listen and bask in God’s presence.
We shouldn’t get mad at ourselves if we get involved with an interesting thought. Just go back to your sacred word. God is bigger than any thought that comes across our mind. Just let thoughts come & go without giving them any attention.
Fr. Thomas Keating, in his book on Centering prayer, ”Open Mind, Open Heart”, tells us that SILENCE is God’s greatest love language. We don’t communicate during Centering prayer. We just allow God to be inside us. We may feel an intense peace. We’ll feel a great love for and FROM God. We may feel frustration that we can’t quiet our mind.
I had a hard time considering this as prayer time since I wasn’t communicating. Words are not necessary with God. He knows our thoughts better than we do. This is our time to just rest in His presence…drink in His glory. Think of being in a room with someone you love. Remember that words are not necessary.
An immediate benefit of Centering prayer is that it makes our other prayer time more fruitful. Once time is spent in silence with God, we get used to feeling His presence. That will carry over to our regular prayers. We’ll feel as though we have a closer communion with Him…and we do!
Before Centering prayer, my prayers seemed more fruitful when they were ‘prayers in motion’. Long runs used to be the best time for me to pray. Since I can no longer run, the treadmill or the elliptical have become my favorite time to pray.
I was talking to my sister-in-law about my new endeavor with Centering prayer & the difficulty I was having with sitting still during that time. She responded, “Mary, prayer is prayer.” God listens to them all. Occasionally I think He rolls His eyes or chuckles at some of my prayers…but He IS listening!
Centering prayer does not replace our regular communication with God. It WILL make any time spent with God more fruitful. 20 minutes, twice a day? Can we really do that? Do we even want to try? Baby steps! Right?
Spending time with God with no agenda at all but to be with Him…can leave us feeling very fulfilled. Sometimes we will feel nothing. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t notice. Remember also that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
Let’s try to add Centering prayer occasionally to our regular prayer repertoire. Our efforts to look for an even closer relationship will please Him. We can expect it to have a profound effect on how we view our life with our creator.
Is it really true that You love us most in silence? Help us to quiet our racing minds to listen & feel the love You have for us.
We know that You hear all of our prayers. Let us try Centering prayer as a way to bring ourselves even closer to You!
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