top of page

Guest Blog: Thanks to Author Tyler Nicodem, MA

Discovering Centering Prayer:

A Journey into Christian Contemplative Practice


In the modern world, where distractions and constant activity seem to dominate our lives, finding moments of peace and stillness is more essential than ever. Centering Prayer, a form of contemplative prayer, offers a path to spiritual depth and inner tranquility. This practice, rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition, invites practitioners to move beyond thoughts, words, and emotions into a silent communion with God.




 

A Brief History of Centering Prayer

 

Centering Prayer was popularized in the 1970s by Trappist monk Father Thomas Keating, along with his fellow monks, Fathers William Meninger and Basil Pennington. Keating, deeply influenced by the ancient Christian contemplative practices and the works of mystics like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, sought to make these transformative traditions accessible to modern seekers.

 

Thomas Keating's dedication to sharing contemplative prayer led to the formation of Contemplative Outreach in 1984. This organization has since become a cornerstone for those looking to explore and deepen their understanding of Centering Prayer. Keating's teachings emphasize that this practice is not about achieving a particular state of mind but about consenting to God's presence and action within us.

 

Steps to Centering Prayer

 

According to Contemplative Outreach, the method of Centering Prayer can be distilled into four simple steps. These steps guide practitioners into a place of receptive silence, fostering a deeper connection with the divine. Here’s how to practice Centering Prayer:

 

1. Choose a Sacred Word:

   Select a word that symbolizes your intention to consent to God's presence and action within. This word should be simple and sacred, such as "Love," "God," "Peace," or "Jesus." The chosen word is not a mantra to be repeated continuously but a symbol of your intention.

 

2. Sit Comfortably and Close Your Eyes:

   Find a quiet place to sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Sitting with your eyes closed helps minimize distractions and signal your intention to enter into a state of prayer. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.

 

3. Introduce the Sacred Word:

   Silently introduce your sacred word as a symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within. Whenever you become aware of thoughts, gently return to the sacred word. The goal is not to stop thinking but to let go of attachment to thoughts and return to your intention.

 

4. Conclude the Prayer:

   After about 20 minutes (use a timer if necessary), remain in silence for a couple of minutes before opening your eyes. This period of silence helps you transition from the prayerful state back into everyday activity.

 

These steps form the heart of Centering Prayer, a practice that fosters a deeper awareness of and relationship with God. Through regular practice, individuals often find a greater sense of inner peace, compassion, and connection to the divine.

 

Integrating Centering Prayer into Daily Life

 

Integrating Centering Prayer into daily life requires commitment and regularity. Starting with short sessions of five to ten minutes can be beneficial for beginners. As one becomes more comfortable with the practice, extending the duration to the recommended 20 minutes can enhance the depth of the experience.

 

It can be helpful to establish a routine, setting aside specific times each day for prayer. Morning and evening are often ideal times, as they frame the day with moments of stillness and reflection. Additionally, creating a dedicated prayer space can signal a retreat from daily distractions and foster a sense of sacredness.

 

Participating in a community or group dedicated to Centering Prayer can also provide support and encouragement. Many churches and spiritual centers offer regular group sessions, retreats, and workshops. In Nashville, TN. Tyler Nicodem runs a Centering Prayer group every first Sunday of the month at Spero Dei Church in Sylvan Park at 9:15 AM. Beginners as well as well-seasoned practitioners of the prayer are welcome. Contemplative Outreach offers numerous resources, including local chapter meetings and online groups, to support individuals in their journey.

 

The Essence of Contemplative Practices

 

Contemplative prayer, such as Centering Prayer, represents a broader category of spiritual practices aimed at fostering a deeper awareness of God's presence. Unlike vocal or petitionary prayers, which involve active communication with God, contemplative prayer emphasizes silent, receptive listening. This type of prayer aligns closely with the teachings of the Christian mystics and the early Desert Fathers and Mothers who sought solitude and simplicity to deepen their spiritual lives.

 

Contemplative practices are not exclusive to Christianity; similar practices can be found in many spiritual traditions worldwide, such as various forms of meditation in Buddhism or Sufi meditation in Islam. These practices, regardless of their specific form or tradition, share a common goal: to transcend ordinary consciousness and open oneself to the divine mystery.

 

Engaging in contemplative prayer can bring numerous benefits, both spiritual and psychological. It helps cultivate inner stillness, reduces stress, and enhances emotional resilience. Furthermore, it encourages a more profound sense of empathy and compassion towards others, fostering a sense of interconnectedness with all of creation.

 

For those interested in exploring various forms of contemplative prayer, a wealth of resources is available. One valuable resource can be found at Worthy Counseling, which offers various contemplative prayer practices from different traditions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Daoism, and Native American Spirituality. Worthy Counseling also offers insights and guidance for integrating these practices into daily life.

 

Conclusion

 

Centering Prayer offers a profound way to connect with the divine presence in our lives, fostering a deeper sense of peace, clarity, and compassion. By following the simple steps outlined by Contemplative Outreach and integrating this practice into daily life, individuals can embark on a transformative spiritual journey. Whether practiced alone or within a community, Centering Prayer opens the door to a richer, more contemplative existence, inviting us to rest in the stillness of God's love.

 

 

About The Author — Tyler Nicodem, M.A.

Tyler is owner of Worthy Counseling in Nashville, TN. Worthy Counseling helps those stuck in toxic shame reclaim their inherent worth, find healing, and discover wholeness. Tyler is passionate about working with people who have spiritual trauma, the LGBTQIA+ community, and helping ministers who are burnt out or lonely in their roles. Prior to counseling, Tyler served in ministry for eight years, three of which he was a licensed minister in the Christian Church. Tyler Nicodem is pursuing licensure as a Clinical Pastoral Therapist in the State of Tennessee and holds two Master of the Arts degrees from Belmont University in Clinical Pastoral Therapy and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In his free time, Tyler loves to play board games, watch all things Star Wars, and check out the newest speakeasies in Nashville, TN.


Comments


Archived
Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page