Photo by Matheus Bertelli
Embarking upon a spiritual journey often leads one to seek methods of deepening their connection with the divine. One such method, centering prayer, is a contemplative practice that invites the presence of God into the stillness of one’s being. As we pivot from understanding the book ‘Intimacy with God to exploring the core principles it presents, we find ourselves at the threshold of this transformative form of prayer.
Centering Prayer as a Form of Contemplative Prayer
Centering prayer is a silent communion with God, where words fall away, and the soul speaks in the quiet breaths of stillness. Emerging from ancient Christian contemplative traditions, it was revitalized by Father Thomas Keating and his contemporaries in the latter half of the 20th century. This prayer form is not about asking for things or contemplating scripture; instead, it is about surrendering oneself to the experience of God’s presence (“Our Founders,” Centering Prayer).
Akin to Mindfulness Meditation, centering prayer involves settling the mind. Still, it uniquely emphasizes holding onto a sacred word to symbolize one’s intention to consent to God’s presence and action (Goodreads). It is a gentle invitation, extended without expectation or force, to rest in the grace of the divine.
The Concept of Intimacy with God and Its Significance
Why strive for intimacy with God? In many spiritual traditions, closeness with the divine is seen as the pinnacle of spiritual practice—a union not just sought for comfort but as an essential transformation of the self. ‘Intimacy with God’ explains that through centering prayer, individuals can deepen their relationship with God, making way for a process that molds them more into the likeness of Christ (Boston College, C21 Engage).
This intimacy is significant because it is not merely about knowledge of God but rather an experiential knowing that comes from God’s presence. It is a shift from understanding God as an external entity to experiencing God within, aligning with the movement from “self outside of God”, toward “God in the self” as outlined in the first chapter of ‘Intimacy with God’ (Goodreads).
As practitioners continue with centering prayer, they often report a journey that moves from initial rest to peace and then to a phase of inner purification, where deeper peace accompanies the unloading of subconscious turmoil—a process crucial for spiritual growth and transformation (Goodreads).
Implications for Spiritual Practice
The implications of centering prayer extend far beyond the moments of silence. The practice gradually percolates into every aspect of one’s life, fostering a sense of serenity and tranquility. Through consistent practice, as ‘Intimacy with God’ suggests, one begins to view the world through a lens polished by the presence of God, affecting how one interacts with others and faces life’s challenges.
This prayerful orientation towards the divine is not a quick fix but a lifelong journey. It requires trust and dedication, and, as the author advises, one must trust the process and allow the unfolding in quiet solitude. The effects may only become discernible after persistent practice, yet the promise is a profound peace and a steady unburdening of the psyche.
In this introduction to centering prayer and the concept of intimacy with God, we have uncovered the contours of a practice steeped in rich tradition and poised to offer a transformative experience. As we explore its essence and impact in subsequent sections, we understand that centering prayer is not just a method but a gateway to a deeper union with the divine.