Discipleship Habit #1: Pray Every Day
Week 13 Offering ourselves, just as we are
Lord Jesus, we praise You for You are patient! You lovingly wait for us to come to You and long to listen to us. Forgive us for the times in our lives when we have not drawn close to You in prayer. In Your Scripture You tell us, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6 - 7) We claim this promise. Thank You for being so available to us. Help us to know that You long to meet with us in prayer.
Lord, teach us how to pray. Give us the desire to get to know You in prayer every day and the discipline to guard our prayer time when busyness tempts us away from You. Jesus, we trust in You. We make this prayer in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Reflection: From Fr. Thomas Keating, Open Heart, Open Mind
All true prayer is based on the conviction of the presence of the Spirit in us and of His unfailing and continual inspiration. Every prayer in this sense is prayer in the Spirit. Still, it seems more accurate to reserve the term prayer in the Spirit, for that prayer in which the inspiration of the Spirit is given directly to our spirit without the intermediary of our own reflections or acts of the will. In other words, the Spirit prays in us and we consent.
According to the Baltimore catechism, “Prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God.” In using this ancient formula it is important to keep in mind that it is not we who do the lifting. In every kind of prayer the raising of the mind and heart to God can only be the work of the Spirit. In prayer inspired by the Spirit we let ourselves flow with the lifting movement and drop all reflections. Reflection is an important preliminary to prayer, but it is not prayer. Prayer is not only the offering of our interior acts to God: it is the offering of ourselves, of who we are just as we are.
Spend a few minutes now simply raising your mind and heart to God, offering God yourself, just as you are.
Praying with Centering Prayer
To be a disciple of Jesus means to live the way Jesus lived and surrender our lives to our Father. Jesus invites us to sharpen our spiritual attentiveness, to see with the eyes of Christ, so that we can love as Jesus loves. So often; however, our own thoughts and perceptions get in the way and trip us up. We need help re-aligning our minds to Christ’s to help us live the Gospel message. We need a way to put our mind, our attention and intention, in our heart.
Centering Prayer is the tool we need to help us live out of our hearts – it gives us a way of letting go of our own stuff so that we are able to rest in the presence of God. Through Centering Prayer, we practice becoming aware of, then surrendering, thoughts to God so that this surrender becomes a habit and, eventually, a way of life. Unlike any other form of meditation, Centering Prayer doesn’t focus on a particular word or thought. Rather, Centering Prayer is done with intention, not attention. By turning our intention to our awareness of God, our attention does not go to an object or focus on any one thing. This is an “objectless awareness” and surrender to the gaze of God. Many who practice Centering Prayer struggle with their thoughts and complain that they cannot stop their “monkey-mind”. They find themselves getting “hooked” into a stream of thought, becoming frustrated with their inability to clear their mind. This line of reasoning; however, implies that we are asked to renounce our thoughts, push them away as if that’s even possible. Instead, Centering Prayer is a gentle surrender of thoughts, a letting go, a release and turning over of thoughts and returning our awareness to God.
Practitioners of this form of prayer often use what is called a “sacred word” which acts as a windshield wiper to our attention. When one realizes that a thought has brought his or her attention to something, the sacred word brings awareness to the need to release the thought and surrender attention to God. We do not do this on our own. In Centering Prayer we receive an enormous help from our subconscious. All we have to have is the willingness to be reminded that we are thinking; our hearts do the rest. In fact, the real gift of Centering Prayer is done in the noticing and surrender of the thought so that we can then return our awareness to God.
The Guidelines of Centering Prayer:
St. Teresa of Calcutta on Prayer
I don’t think there is anyone who needs God’s help and grace as much as I do. Sometimes I feel so helpless and so weak. I think this is why God uses me. Because I cannot depend on my own strength, I rely on Him twenty-four hours a day. All of us must cling to God through prayer. My secret is simple: I pray. Through prayer, I become one in love with Christ. I realize that praying to Him is loving Him.
We cannot find God in noise or agitation. Nature: trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence. What is essential is not what we say, but what God tells others through us. In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.
Silence of our eyes,
Silence of our ears.
Silence of our minds,
…In the silence of the heart God will speak.
View St. Teresa of Calcutta’s message to those struggling with prayer: