“Centering prayer” is an ancient meditative prayer based on Sermon on the Mount wisdom. It’s a way to pray with your whole heart; sacred words are the crux of this prayer (words that heal your heart and strengthen your soul).
“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard.
Prayer isn’t about getting what you want or changing God’s mind about something – no matter how virtuous or important your needs and wants are! Rather, prayer is about communing with God so you feel more stable, secure, and peaceful no matter what happens in your life. It’s fine and even good to pray for what you want – God wants us to ask Him for the desires of our hearts! But basing all your happiness on whether or not God says “yes” to your prayers isn’t true spirituality.
To learn more about prayer, read Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
And, here’s how centering prayer can help you pray with your whole heart…
What is “Centering Prayer”?
Centering prayer is about silencing your heart and mind for peace, for increased spirituality, and for the emotional and spiritual strength to cope with whatever happens in your life.
This type of prayer is about communing with God. It’s not about getting what you want; it’s about finding the strength to cope with what you get.
How to Pray With Your Whole Heart
1. Choose a word (a “sacred” word or phrase) that symbolizes your prayer intention. The focus of centering prayer is to consent to God’s presence and action within your soul and in your life. Choose a word or phrase that helps you remember that you are consenting to God’s work and power in your life. For instance, your sacred word could be “Trust” or “Abba” or “Hope” or “God’s will be done” or “Acceptance.” My sacred word is “Freedom.” The idea is to be open to what God has in store.
2. Find a comfortable position and place to pray. Where can you pray comfortably for 20 minutes? Try not to pray in a place where you’ll fall asleep or be distracted. Close your eyes and let go of everything happening within you – all your hopes and yearnings and disappointments and heartaches. Be prepared for distractions, such as images, feelings, reflections, physical sensations, and unexpected thoughts. You might consider using aromatherapy in prayer.
3. Use your sacred word in your centering prayer. Whatever thoughts or emotions come to you while you pray, lay your sacred word over them. Centering prayer is about silencing your mind and using your sacred word to calm your heart. That is, when negative, distracting, or persistent thoughts or feelings crop up, repeat “Trust” or “Acceptance” until your mind is silenced again, and you feel calm and focused on God. To pray with your whole heart, stay focused on your sacred word or phrase: “Faith” or “God’s will be done.”
4. Be in silence for a couple of minutes after your centering prayer. Taking two or three minutes to transition out of centering prayer will help you bring your “God feelings” into your everyday life. Praying with your whole heart like this can help you feel peaceful, hopeful, faithful, and able to accept whatever comes your way.
The purpose of centering prayer is to give you peace, hope, and acceptance – no matter what happens in your life.
Have you tried centering prayer, or praying with your whole heart? I welcome your thoughts below…