What is Centering Prayer?
Centering Prayer is a method of prayer which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence, traditionally called contemplative prayer. It consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God’s presence and action within. Centering Prayer helps the movement from more active kinds of prayer into a receptive prayer of resting in God. It is, at the same time, a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, which we recognize as the common ground for Christian unity. The method of Centering Prayer is based on practices of the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina (praying the Scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, and the writings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.
What is Contemplative Prayer?
Contemplative prayer is a process of interior transformation, a conversation initiated by God and leading, if we consent, to Divine union. One’s way of seeing reality changes in this process. A restructuring of consciousness takes place which empowers one to perceive, relate and respond with increasing sensitivity to the Divine presence in, through, and beyond everything that exists.
For over 30 years, Contemplative Outreach has been dedicated to transmitting the living tradition of the contemplative Christian heritage through the teachings of Fr. Thomas Keating and through programs and offerings that support the contemplative life. Our principal purpose is to share the method and conceptual background of Centering Prayer.
We seek to listen to and address the cries of our common suffering and divided world. We seek to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and to respond accordingly.
Most importantly, we seek relationship with Ultimate Reality through listening to God’s first language: Silence.
Theological Principles of Contemplative Outreach
- Contemplative Outreach is a community of individuals and Centering Prayer groups committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in everyday life.
- A commitment to the daily practice of Centering Prayer is the primary expression of belonging.
- Listening to the word of God in Scripture through the practice of Lectio Divina is encouraged, particularly its movement into contemplative prayer, which a daily practice of Centering Prayer facilitates.
- The source of Centering Prayer is the Indwelling Trinity. Its practice consists of responding to the call of the Holy Spirit to consent to the Divine presence and action within.
- The Divine presence affirms our basic core of goodness made in the image of God.
- The Divine action is the process of transformation in Christ which inspires and deepens our consent.
- The contemplative dimension of the Gospel manifests as an ever-deepening union with Christ and the practical caring for others that flows from this relationship. It reveals the deeper meaning of Christ’s life and teaching.
- Our relationship with the living Christ is the bond uniting us together in mutual love.
- While formed by our respective denominations, we are united in our common search for God and our experience of Christ through Centering Prayer.
- We identify with the Christian contemplative heritage in which Centering Prayer is rooted. We recognize this heritage as the common ground for Christian unity.
- We affirm our solidarity with the contemplative dimension of other religions and sacred traditions.
- Through the continuing practice of Centering Prayer, we experience a deepening commitment to the needs and rights of each member of the human family and an increasing respect for the interdependence of all creation.
- We foster a spirit of unity, generosity and utmost charity in all our relationships.
- Following the teachings of Jesus, we exercise leadership through an attitude of humility, listening and service.
- We recognize and maintain a spiritual relationship with Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.
- We acknowledge that any good accomplished by Contemplative Outreach is the work of the Holy Spirit.
and I in you, may they also be one in us.