Centering Prayer

centeringcombe15Centering prayer fellowship groups meet each week for parishioners of All Saints’ and “all other saints!” These groups meet on Mondays and Thursdays.

Intercessions for shared requests and Compline are also a part of these gatherings.

Centering Prayer is one form of the Prayer of Oblation described in the Episcopal catechism. It is one method of contemplative prayer, where the emphasis is on resting peacefully in the presence of the Lord Jesus. The purpose of centering prayer is to turn our thoughts away from our usual petitions and distractions in order to focus on the indwelling presence of God.

Seeds of what would become known as contemplation were sown early in the Christian era. The first historical discussions came in the 4th century writings of St. John Cassian, a monk who recorded what he learned from the Desert Fathers (specifically from Isaac). Cassian's writings remained influential until the medieval era, when monastic practice shifted from a mystical orientation to Scholasticism.

The contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers developed further with the Lectio Divina tradition of Benedictine monasticism, and in works by the anonymous English author of The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and St. Ignatius Loyala. In modern times, interest in Centering Prayer was rekindled by several books from three Trappist monks in the 1970s: Fr. William Meninger, Fr. M. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating.

This brief guideline is adapted from Fr. Basil Pennington’s suggestions for centering prayer. One normally takes 20-30 minutes for this prayer time.

  • Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Relax and quiet yourself. Jesus is inviting you to come away and spend these moments close to Him.
  • Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence (i.e. "Jesus", "Lord," "God," "Savior," "Abba," "Spirit," "Love," etc.). In Eastern churches the prayer most commonly used is the Jesus Prayer.
  • Let that sacred word or prayer be your anchor, a symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence, with no other agenda or demands.
  • Whenever you become aware of anything distracting (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images), simply choose to repeat your sacred word, your anchor, as you return your attention and focus to the loving presence of Jesus Christ.



Prayer and Worship

(Book of Common Prayer, page 857)

Q. What is prayer?

A. Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.


Q. What is Christian Prayer?

A. Christian prayer is response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Q. What is prayer of oblation?

A. Oblation is an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.

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