At Chapelwood, small groups meet weekly in The Anchor House to practice Centering Prayer, a form of silent prayer that awakens us to God's presence and work in our lives. It is characterized by openness, receptivity, and listening. Nancy Sterling is the facilitator. The group gathers quietly in The Anchor House and exchange greetings and welcome visitors. Nancy Sterling reviews the method of Centering Prayer and leads everyone to silence and stillness. A Psalm is read aloud slowly and quietly as the group enters silent prayer. The group prays in silence for about 20 minutes, and then closes with the Lord's prayer and a short reading from a devotional book. Group members may slip out as needed. Centering Prayer is a method of cultivating your friendship with Jesus.
Monday Centering Prayer group is at 9:00 a.m. in The Anchor House.
Wednesday Centering Prayer group is at 8:30 a.m. in The Anchor House.
More about Centering Prayer from Jerry Webber...
Those who undertake a life of prayer learn at some point in the journey that prayer is about more than the words we say to God. Prayer is communion with God, and we learn that there are times when it is enough for us simply to sit in the presence of God and be with him without thoughts or ideas. God is beyond our thoughts and mental impressions. God is beyond our conceptions of who he is. God is. And there are times when the best we can do is sit and give to God our loving attention.
When the Spirit begins to move a pray-er in this direction, he or she moves more and more into the realms of contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer refers to ways of being with God that are characterized by openness, receptivity, and listening. In contemplative prayer we allow God to set the agenda while we simply give ourselves to receive whatever God wants to do in our prayer.
Centering Prayer is one form of contemplative prayer that disposes us of God’s presence and work within our lives. An ancient prayer form with roots in the Scripture and in the early Desert Fathers and Mothers, it has been rediscovered in our day. This manner of prayer has been called by different names at various times in history, including the prayer of quiet, prayer of simplicity, prayer of the heart, and the prayer of simple regard. In our day Centering Prayer has recaptured for all followers of Jesus Christ a vital stream of Christian life.
In the early 1970’s three Trappist monks (Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington, William Menninger) began to teach a method which made contemplative prayer accessible to clergy and lay alike. They gleaned from Scripture and the rich traditions of John Cassian, The Cloud of Unknowing, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Thomas Merton a method that serves to deepen the friendship with God to which we are called. They called the method Centering Prayer.
The simplified guidelines for Centering Prayer are as follows: Choose a prayer word as a symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within you. The word might be something like Lord, Jesus, love, Abba, Father, peace, shalom, etc. Sit comfortably and with your eyes gently closed. As you settle into your chair, silently introduce the prayer word into your awareness as a symbol of your intention to be present to God and your openness to God’s presence within you. When you become aware of any thoughts or distractions, return simply and gently to your prayer word. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes. Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer or some other prayer.
There are numerous resources available on Centering Prayer. Among the best are Keating’s Open Mind, Open Heart and Pennington’s Centered Living. Keating and Pennington also produce pamphlets that present the method in simple form. These resources and others are available through The Center for Christian Spirituality. In addition to the Monday and Wednesday groups, The Center also sponsors Days of Centering Prayer for those who are interested in this prayer form.