Centering Prayer Group and Study
Centering Prayer is a method of meditation used by Christians placing a strong emphasis on interior silence. The modern Centering Prayer movement in Christianity can be traced to several books published by three Trappist monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts in the 1970s: Fr. William Meninger, Fr. M. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating. The name was taken from Thomas Merton’s description of contemplative prayer (a much older and more traditional practice) as prayer that is “centered entirely on the presence of God”. In his book Contemplative Prayer, Merton writes ““Monastic prayer begins not so much with “considerations” as with a “return to the heart,” finding one’s deepest center, awakening the profound depths of our being”.
The creators of the Centering Prayer movement claim to trace their roots to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism, to the Lectio Divina tradition of Benedictine monasticism, and to works like The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Advocates of Centering Prayer say it does not replace other prayer but encourages silence and deeper connection to God. Also advocates of Centering Prayer say it helps people be more present and open to God. Father Thomas Keating has promoted both Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer.