retreat in daily life

God comes to you disguised as your life..Puala D'Arcy

the four guidelines to centering prayer

  1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.
  2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.
  3. When engaged with your thoughts (thoughts include body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections) return ever so gently to the sacred word.
  4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

See further down this page for more detail in how to practice centering prayer.

day

Each day has an Opening Prayer and a Closing Prayer. It can be helpful to use these in your Centering prayer practice.

day 1

Silenceopening prayer: The way of pure faith is to persevere in contemplative practice without worrying about where we are on the journey, and without comparing ourselves with others or judging other's gifts as better than ours. We can be spared all this nonsense if we surrender ourselves to the divine action, whatever the psychological content of our prayer may be. In pure faith, the results are often hidden, even from those who are growing the most….The divine light of faith is totally available in the degree that we consent and surrender ourselves to its presence and action within.
Thomas Keating: Invitation to Love

 

closing prayer: Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth and teach me; for you are God my savior.
Psalm 25

day 2

By Waiting and By Calm prayeropening prayer:
By waiting and by calm you shall be saved,
in quiet and in trust your strength lies.
Isaiah 30:15

 

closing prayer: We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…
We need silence to be able to touch souls.
Mother Teresa

day 3

opening prayer: God of the Silence: Calm and quiet my soul at the fountain of your loving presence. In your silence, replenish me with a force for love, especially for those who are the most demanding. When there is nowhere else to go, inspire me to drop into my heart and find your life giving Grace there, weaving the fabric of human reality into a tapestry of love.
Peter Traben Haas, Centering Prayers: A One-Year Daily Companion for Going Deeper into the Love of God.

Silence Calms My Soul

closing prayer: We do not need to go out and find love; rather, we need to be still and let love discover us.
John O'Donohue. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

day 4

God Is Loveopening prayer: The contemplative journey is the most responsible of all responses to God because so much depends on it-the future of humanity, the healing of the wounds of humanity, our own deepest healing. It's not just a method of meditation or a practice to find personal peace. It's basically a total acceptance of the human condition in all its ramifications, including its desperate woundedness….Humans are fully capable of becoming god, not in the fullest sense of the term, but in a very real way, where the light, life, and love of God are pouring through them, channeling a source of healing, compassion and reconciliation wherever they go and whatever they do. They are rooted in the divine compassion and mercy and are manifesting the pure light of the image and likeness of God within them, which is the assimilation of the mind and heart of Christ in everyday life.
Thomas Keating, Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ

 

closing prayer: Oh God, grant me an undivided heart to love and serve you today with all my heart, mind, strength and soul. Open my eyes to see you and serve you in the ordinary events of this day. May Love radiate through me. Amen.

day 5

opening prayer: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.
John 14:3–4

closing prayer: God and our true Self and not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing.
Thomas Keating: Open Heart, Open Mind

Centering Prayer

day 6

Who Looks Inside Awakensopening prayer:
I will heal them and lead them; I will give full comfort to them and to those who mourn for them.
I, the Creator, who gave them life. Peace, peace to the far and the near; and I will heal them.
Isaiah 57: 18–1

 

closing prayer: Almighty and Loving God: I thank you for the gift of life. For the sake of the human community, I request that we might become the fullness of what you intend for us to be, right where we are in all our extraordinary ordinariness. Amen.
Peter Traben Haas, Centering Prayers.

day 7

Speak Lord Your Servant Is Listeningopening prayer:
Here I am, Dear Lord, desperately in need of your Holy Spirit. Give me your Holy Spirit, according to your promise. I don't know how to ask rightly, so I just sit here and allow you to pray in me, asking for what you most want to bestow, which is your own Holy Spirit – with the Gifts through which the Holy Spirit takes over more and more of my life.
Thomas Keating

 

closing prayer:
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.
1 Samuel 3:10

day 8

No Branch Can Bear Fruit On Its Ownopening prayer: Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
John 15:4–5, 9

 

closing prayer: We too are called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with God, together as a community as well as personally; to be alone with Him — not with our books, thoughts, and memories but completely stripped of everything — to dwell lovingly in His presence, silent, empty, expectant, and motionless. We cannot find God in noise or agitation.
Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

day 9

healing prayeropening prayer:
I will heal them and lead them;
I will give full comfort to them and to those who mourn for them.

I, the Creator, who gave them life.
Peace, peace to the far and the near;
and I will heal them.
Isaiah 57: 18–1

 

 

closing prayer:
The basic disposition in the spiritual journey is the capacity to accept all reality;
God, ourselves, other people, and all creation as they are.
Thomas Keating: Invitation from God

day 10

Holy Trinityopening prayer: Where does Centering Prayer come from? Its source is the Trinity dwelling within us. It is rooted in God's life within us….
We participate as human beings in God's life just by being alive, but much more through grace….This stream of divine love that is constantly renewed in the life of the trinity is infused into us through grace. We know this by our desire for God. That desire, however it may be battered by the forces of daily life, manifests itself in the effort that we make to develop a life of prayer and a life of action that is penetrated by prayer.
Thomas Keating: Intimacy with God

 

closing prayer:
You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
St Augustine of Hippo

day 11

opening prayer: Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.
Mother Teresa

Hands of God

closing prayer: This command which I am giving you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not in the sky…. Nor is it across the sea….
No, it is something very new to you, already in your mouth and in your heart; you have only to carry it out.
Deuteronomy 30:11 – 14

day 12

opening prayer: We have not received the spirit of the world but the spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.
1 Corinthians 2:12

Rooted in God's Loveclosing prayer:
God is closer to us than our own soul,
for he is the foundation
on which our soul stands,
and he is the means which keeps the subsaynce and the sensuality together,
so that they will never separate.
For our soul fits in god in true rest,
and our soul is naturally rooted
in God in endless love.
Julian of Norwich, Showings

day 13

opening prayer: My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you. My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you. My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.
Nicholas of Flue

Close to God

closing prayer: The fundamental goodness of human nature, like the mystery of the Trinity, Grace and the Incarnation, is an essential element of Christian faith. This basic core of goodness is capable of unlimited development; indeed, of becoming transformed into Christ and deified.
Thomas Keating: Open Heart, Open Mind

day 14

opening prayer:
My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When can I enter and see the face of God? ….Deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents, and all your waves and breakers sweep over me. By day may the Lord send his mercy, and by night make his righteousness be with me! I will pray to the God of my life. Why are you downcast, My soul, why do you groan within me? Wait for God …my savior and my God.
Psalm 42

 

God's Handsclosing prayer:
Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God does not change.
Patience achieves everything."
Mother Teresa

day 15

Lifeopening prayer: Humanity as a whole needs a breakthrough into the contemplative dimension of life. This is The Life at the heart of the world. There the human family is already one. If one goes to one's own heart of everyone else, one will find oneself in the heart of everyone else, and all in the heart of the Ultimate Mystery.
Thomas Keating

 

closing prayer:
If you try to view yourself through the lenses that others offer you, all you will see are distortions; your own light and beauty will become blurred, awkward, and ugly.
Your sense of inner beauty has to remain a very private thing.
John O'Donohue. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

day 16

Hope Enduresopening prayer:
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Romans 12:12

closing prayer: If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.
John O'Donohue. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

day 17

Mindfulnessopening prayer: In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.
Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

 

closing prayer: The heart is the inner face of your life. The human journey strives to make this inner face beautiful. It is here that love gathers within you. Love is absolutely vital for a human life. For love alone can awaken what is divine within you. In love, you grow and come home to your self. When you learn to love and let yourself be loved, you come home to the hearth of your own spirit. You are warm and sheltered.
John O'Donohue. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

day 18

Prayeropening prayer: This Presence is so immense, yet so humble; awe-inspiring yet so gentle; limitless, yet so intimate, tender and personal. I know that I am known. Everything in my life is transparent in this Presence. It knows everything about me – all my weaknesses, brokenness, sinfulness – and still loves me infinitely. This Presence is healing, strengthening, refreshing – just by its Presence. It is nonjudgmental, self-giving, seeing no reward, boundless in compassion. It is like coming home to a place I should never have left, to an awareness that was somehow always there, but which I did not recognize.
Thomas Keating: Open Heart, Open Mind

closing prayer: Though the mountains leave their place in the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.
Isaiah 54:10

day 19

Hear Me Godopening prayer:
Now the Lord is the spirit,
and where the spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
All of us, gazing with unveiled face
on the glory of the Lord,
of being transformed
into the same image
from glory to glory,
as from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17 – 18

 

closing prayer:
Oh God, come to my assistance.
Oh Lord, make haste to help me.
Psalm 70

day 20

opening prayer:
You are as young as you feel.
If you begin to feel the warmth of your soul,
there will be a youthfulness in you
that no one will be able to take away from you.
John O'Donohue

 

closing prayer:
I love the Lord, who listened to my voice in supplication, Who turned an ear to me on the day I called. …
Return, my soul to your rest; the Lord has been very good to you. For my soul has been freed from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.
Psalm 116

day 21

opening prayer: To hope for something better in the future is not the theological virtue of hope. Theological hope is based on God alone, who is both infinitely powerful right now. Here is the formula to deepen and further the theological virtue of hope with its unbounded confidence in God. Let whatever is happening happen and go on happening. Welcome whatever it is. Let go into the present moment by surrendering to its content…The divine energies are rushing past us at every nanosecond of time. Why not reach out and catch them by continuing acts of self-surrender and trust in God?
Thomas Keating: Reflections on the Unknowable

Contemplative Prayerclosing prayers:
Being transformed through contemplative prayer,
we take on the mind of Christ—we live more from
a place of knowing that we are loved, safe, and
have no fear.
James Wilhoit

Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.
Thomas Merton

day 22

Prayingopening prayer: For the love of Christ impales us….Whoever is in Christ is the new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ….So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We employ you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:14, 17–18, 20

 

closing prayer: The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

day 23

God's Pathsopening prayer:
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul,
my God, in you I trust;
…Make known to me your ways, Lord;
teach me your paths.
Guide me by your fidelity and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 25 Excerpt 2

 

closing prayer:
"But there is greater comfort
in the substance of silence
than in the answer to a question."
Thomas Merton

day 24

opening prayer: A creative vision releases an enormous amount of energy and can transform society beyond our wildest dreams….The power of the stars is nothing compared to the energy of a person whose will has been freed from the false-self system and who is thus enabled to co-create the cosmos together with God.
Thomas Keating: The Mystery of Christ

The Road Aheadclosing prayer: My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

day 25

opening prayer: Jesus said to his disciples: stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Matthew 24:42

The Soul Awakensclosing prayer:
Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never do back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.
John O'Donohue. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

day 26

God's Joyopening prayer:
May we become bearers of joy, we who are invited to share in the Cosmic Dance!
May we walk in faith all the days of our life – confident in your Divine Presence,
even in times of trouble, and with assurance for what is and all that is to be;
May we have faith in the unfolding of our lives, and radical trust in the universe!
Excerpted from Psalm 106, Nan Merrill: Psalms for Praying

 

closing prayer:
Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.
Thomas Merton

day 27

opening prayer:
The best interests of theology lie not in God in the highest but in the depths of God, something deep within God, even older than God, or deeper than God, and for that very same reason, deep within us, we and God are always being intertwined.
John D. Caputo, The Folly of God: A Theology of the Unconditional

Praying with Godclosing prayer:
Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
     the father of glory,
give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation
     resulting in knowledge of him.
May the eyes of your heart be enlightened,
     that you may know what is the hope
that belongs to his call.
Ephesians 1:17–18

day 28

opening prayer:
Powerlessness is our greatest treasure.
Don't try to get rid of it. Every thing in us wants to get rid of it. Grace is sufficient for you, but not something you can understand. To be in too big a hurry to get over our difficulties is a mistake because you don't know how valuable they are from God's perspective, for without them you might never be transformed as deeply and as thoroughly.
Thomas Keating: Reflections on the Unknowable

God's Loveclosing prayer:
The heart is the inner face of your life. The human journey strives to make this inner face beautiful. It is here that love gathers within you. Love is absolutely vital for a human life. For love alone can awaken what is divine within you. In love, you grow and come home to your self. When you learn to love and let yourself be loved, you come home to the hearth of your own spirit. You are warm and sheltered.
John O'Donohue. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

day 29

Centering Prayeropening prayer:
"To allow oneself to be carried away
by a multitude of conflicting concerns,
to surrender to too many demands,
to commit oneself to too many projects,
to want to help everyone in everything,
is to succumb to the violence of our times."
Thomas Merton

 

 

closing prayer:
Be still and know
that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

day 30

opening prayer: A creative vision releases an enormous amount of energy and can transform society beyond our wildest dreams….The power of the stars is nothing compared to the energy of a person whose will has been freed from the false-self system and who is thus enabled to co-create the cosmos together with God.
Thomas Keating: The Mystery of Christ

Source of Lifeclosing prayer:
In you,
in the source of life,
and in your light,
we see light.
Psalm 36

day 31

Meditationopening prayer: Here I am, Dear Lord, desperately in need of your Holy Spirit. Give me your Holy Spirit, according to your promise. I don't know how to ask rightly, so I just sit here and allow you to pray in me, asking for what you most want to bestow, which is your own Holy Spirit – with the Gifts through which the Holy Spirit takes over more and more of my life.
Thomas Keating

closing prayer: There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.
Mother Teresa

more detail in how to practice centering prayer

Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.

The sacred word expresses our intention to consent to God's presence and action within.

The sacred word is chosen during a brief period of prayer asking the Holy Spirit to inspire us with one that is especially suitable for us. Examples: God, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Mary, Amen.

Other possibilities: Love, Peace, Mercy, Listen, Let Go, Silence, Stillness, Faith, Trust, Yes.

Instead of a sacred word a simple inward glance toward the Divine Presence or noticing one's breath may be more suitable for some persons. The same guidelines apply to these symbols as to the sacred word.

The sacred word is sacred not because of its inherent meaning but because of the meaning we give it as the expression of our intention and consent.

Having chosen a sacred word, we do not change it during the prayer period because that would be to start thinking again.

Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.

"Sitting comfortably" means relatively comfortably so as not to encourage sleep during the time of prayer.

Whatever sitting position we choose, we keep the back straight.

We close our eyes as a symbol of letting go of what is going on around and within us.

We introduce the sacred word inwardly as gently as laying a feather on a piece of absorbent cotton.

Should we fall asleep upon awakening we continue the prayer.

When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.

"Thoughts" is an umbrella term for every perception, including sense perceptions, feelings, images, memories, plans, reflections, concepts, commentaries, and spiritual experiences.

Thoughts are an inevitable, integral and normal part of Centering Prayer.

By "returning ever-so-gently to the sacred word" a minimum of effort is indicated. This is the only activity we initiate during the time of Centering Prayer.

During the course of Centering Prayer, the sacred word may become vague or disappear.

At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

The additional 2 minutes enables us to bring the atmosphere of silence into everyday life.

tips

  • It is not limited to the "felt" presence of God but is rather a deepening of faith in God's abiding presence.
  • It is not a charismatic gift but a path of transformation.
  • It is not a technique but a way of cultivating a relationship with God.

what centering prayer is and is not

  • In all cases we pay no attention and ever- so-gently return to the sacred word.
  • It offers an opportunity to support and share the spiritual journey.
  • Centering Prayer familiarizes us with God's first language which is silence.
  • It is not a para-psychological experience but an exercise of faith, hope and selfless love.
  • It is not reflective or spontaneous prayer, but simply resting in God.

The minimum time for this prayer is 20 minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning and the other in the afternoon or early evening. With practice the time may be extended to 30 minutes or longer.

 

Habitat Uniting Church Office
2 Minona Street, Hawthorn VIC
phone 9819 2844
office@habitatforspirituality.org.au

St David's Centre
cnr Burke & Mont Albert Rds
Canterbury VIC

Habitat Spirituality Centre
@ Augustine

2 Minona St, Hawthorn VIC

Kew Uniting Church
23 Highbury Grove
Kew VIC