“The fundamental purpose of prayer, including the prayer of petition, is not to get something from God, or to change God, but to change ourselves. We pray in order to give ourselves to God.” – Fr. Thomas Keating, The Heart of the World, Contemplative Outreach News, Winter 1997
Last night I attended a 11th Step Centering Prayer meeting and was reintroduced to the work of Thomas Keating. Fr. Keating was one of the developers of Centering Prayer, and a central figure in the initiation of the Centering Prayer movement.
Centering Prayer doesn’t depend on theological dogmas, which is great because otherwise I’d not be interested in it personally. It embraces the idea that God is both separate of us and imminent within us, and it is the latter that you focus on during your 20” prayer time.
A benefit of focusing on God within is that it enables God to bring our psychological problems to the surface and release them over time. One surrenders all thoughts and images to rest in a loving and abiding presence of God. A sacred word is used as an anchor of intent to return us to our consent of accepting the Divine Presence when we get stuck in our thoughts. Centering Prayer is about dialogue with God and trusting and resting in His love and presence. This idea alone brings me a sense of comfort and peace.
It seems that I practice something like Centering Prayer and something like Vipassana in my current times of silence, but not quite. This time has been less than satisfying in my yearning to feel more connected to Spirit. I’m excited about learning more about this way of cultivating a deeper relationship with God, and practicing it. And, since, not unexpectedly it appeals to numerous individuals in 12 Step recovery, I’m also excited about connecting with my 12 Step family in a deeper way.