What is Centering Prayer?
The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the indwelling Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The focus of Centering Prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ. The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.
Centering Prayer is also inspired by the writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative heritage including John Cassian, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton. The 14th century anonymous author of the Cloud of Unknowing also recommended this form of prayer, the choosing of a simple word to symbolise your desire for God. (see Chapters 7 and 8 of The Cloud)Centering prayer was formulated in its present form in the 1970s by three Trappist monks: Fr William Menninger, Fr Basil Pennington, and Abbot Thomas Keating at St Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts (USA). There are more than 40,000 people who practice Centering Prayer in more than 40 countries.
Centering Prayer is a form of Christian Prayer and is not a form of Zen meditation as is sometimes alledged. Zen meditation developed independently as a part of Buddhism in Japan about five centuries later.
Centering prayer is not a technique but a way of cultivating a relationship with God. It is a way of resting in God, of being consciously aware of focusing only on God. It is a way of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God's presence and action within. . It is Trinitarian in its source, Christ-centered in its focus, and ecclesial in its effect; that is, it builds communities of faith and bonds the members together in charity. (courtesy of Contemplative Outreach UK).
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