Thursday, January 13, 2011

Centering Prayer

We were very fortunate last week at our worship team retreat to have a workshop on prayer. The ladies that delivered the workshop gave information and showed us how to practice different forms of prayer. One of the types of prayer demonstrated was called Centering Prayer. I guess I should have known about this before but I'd never really heard or seen it demonstrated. Or at least I'd never seen it tagged with this name.

In the Satisfy My Thirsty Soul book I've shared about, the author challenges readers to try something very similar. She doesn't call it centering but calls for us to learn how to "quiet our inner chatter" so we might hear from God. It is very interesting.

So what is centering prayer, you ask? Well, the author of the book suggests that we set aside 20 minutes to focus on God and quietly listen for His response and feel His presence. Have you ever tried to sit quietly and focus on only one thing for 20 minutes before? How about five minutes? This is hard stuff.

The first time I tried this my thoughts went something like this. "God you are so wonderful and good to me. I don't deserver Your...was that the dryer buzzer? What was in there? Oh towels. They can wait. And God I just want to be in your presence and feel your touch...did I remember to put mouth wash on the grocery list? I know I'll forget. Must remember mouth wash. Ok, and God I just want to sit in Your stillness and hear your voice. [5 seconds pass] Is that the refrigerator door? Riley get out of the refrigerator! Grrr." So needless to say in about 60 seconds I really was off to a poor start.

One of the ladies at the retreat offered a nice addition to this practice. She suggested deciding on a word or image that you would come back to when you begin to feel your internal chatter taking over. It might be the visual of you sitting at the feet of Jesus or a word that brings God into focus for you. For me it might be the word "constant". Knowning not only that God is constantly with me but that I want my focus on him to be constant.

I'm not going to say that I have this one down yet by any means, but I will say it is very rewarding and a great blessing. To sit uninterupted in God's presence is a beautiful thing. It brings strength. And I will also say the more I do it, the better I get at turning down the internal chatter. It is like exercising or anything else. Start small. Maybe in your lifestyle a five minute centering prayer would be a miracle. So start there. As you get better at it, you 'll be surprised how fast the time flies.

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