When the apostles went to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray, they observed how Jesus went into solitude each day to be alone with his Father (Luke 11: 1-13).
Jesus gained wisdom, guidance, and affirmation from his Father, which flowed naturally into his daily life. Contemplation gave him God’s Wisdom and the strength to carry out his life’s purpose. Through this daily practice he found inner peace and guidance.
Jesus modeled for us the human need to find balance between contemplation and action. If we don’t take time each day to sit in the Quiet with God—to listen and connect our hearts with the Holy Spirit—we risk becoming the noisy gongs scripture warns against.
When we do follow Jesus’ pattern (and the other Saints and wise men and women who did so) and spend time each day alone with God, we slowly begin to notice changes in our lives. Our relationship with God deepens. It becomes personal, experiential, and real. We learn discernment—our souls discover how to listen to the silent voice of God, who communicates with us personally through the whisper of the Holy Spirit.
The Western world threw Contemplation out with the Enlightenment. Thomas Merton and Father Thomas Keating taught that it’s the missing piece in our culture’s spiritual formation.
However, as we continue to yearn for that ever-deepening connection with God in our noisy world, the Holy Spirit invites us to return to the ancient tradition of contemplation. Through this daily experience, we discover the inner peace and guidance we need to live with joy and love.
It’s all about relationship
For any relationship to grow, we must spend time nurturing it. Quality time when we talk—and when we listen. Our relationship with God is no different. Maybe we know how to talk to God. But how do we listen?
There are no right or wrong ways to practice meditation/contemplation.
It’s simply creating quiet space and solitude for God in our daily lives so our relationship with the Creator grows and we learn to understand how the Spirit is moving in our lives and how we’re responding to that movement.
Over the next several weeks, I’d like to offer you a smorgasbord of time-tested prayer practices so you can taste each one and choose which is most life-giving for you. There will be a short introduction to the practice and then a YouTube Podcast you can click on to experience it.
Find Your Center
This week, let’s focus on Centering Prayer. With this practice, you’re invited to choose a word or short phrase as a mantra to center yourself the way an anchor moors a boat in wavy water. When your mind drifts, which it will often do, simply come back to the word or phrase to rediscover the stillpoint within you.
Centering Prayer is one way to tame constant mind chatter so we can enjoy inner peace and quiet. It’s a gentle discipline that allows us to calm our minds and open our hearts so we can listen for the Creator’s wisdom and guidance. Centering Prayer invites us to simply rest in God.
The practice has become increasingly popular since the 1970s when Father Thomas Keating and others re-introduced it into the United States through the international organization Contemplative Outreach.
Centering Prayer’s roots dig back to the third century when it was practiced widely by desert fathers and mothers—those men and women who left the noise and chaos of the city to live in caves so they could seek wisdom and solitude. St. Benedict also incorporated Centering Prayer as a foundational daily practice for his monks as they sought to create a balanced rhythm of life.
May you find your Center—the Stillpoint within—as you practice Centering Prayer.
Click on the YouTube link below and InJoy!
—brian j plachta