Centering prayer is a simple pattern that can help us become still and to become aware of the God who is present. If you’re like me, being quiet and still can be hard. My mind wanders and I get itchy feet and hands, wanting to do something, not just sit here. Centering prayer helps me find what Thomas Kelly described as the “quiet center,” where God meets me.
Begin by choosing a simple word or phrase. Even one word will do. It might be a word like, “Abba,” or “Father,” or “Jesus,” or “Spirit,” or “Breath,” or “Life,” or “Love,” or simply, “Beloved.” Repeat the word (or short phrase) over and over, letting it be a centering point. If your mind wanders, don’t get upset, just repeat the word or phrase over and over to draw you back to attentiveness and awareness of God. I sometimes use the word “Beloved,” in my centering prayer, breathing “beloved” out as I address God, and as I inhale, hearing God respond, “Beloved” to me. Let the word or phrase become an anchor that holds you in God’s presence.
You can start slow and build up with this practice, beginning with two minutes, then building up to five, and ten, and fifteen, and twenty. Whatever time you devote to this practice, notice how you feel afterwards. How does it change your attitude? How does it affect your ability to become present to the people around you? How does it affect your relationship with God?
If you find it helpful, find a focal point for your eyes to keep them from wandering. It can be a candle flame, a cross, a flower, an icon or picture that invites you into God’s presence. Let the visual and the verbal cues continually draw you deeper into God’s loving presence. You are not trying to do anything. You are not trying to accomplish anything. You are simply creating space and time to become present to the God who is already present with you.