The Centering Prayer is an ANCIENT Christian practice. The Cloud of Unknowing was the first writing of how this time of reflection was observed. It is believed to have been written in the fourteenth century!
The Centering Prayer is known as a “Apophatic” prayer, or a “subtractive” method of prayer. In contrast from prayer that utilizes “things” or symbols as a tool to call God and his attributes to mind, Apophatic prayer pushes these things away. It gives us an opportunity to practice being in God’s presence.
Here is a simple 7 minute video about the “How to” and the intention behind the Centering Prayer by Fr. Thomas Keating.
Here is an excellent book on the Centering Prayer. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Finding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering Prayer
by by M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke, & Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault (Foreword)
Here is a small excerpt from the book to help you understand its tone.
In the center of your being lives God: Father, Son and Spirit. Centering prayer allows you to experience His presence and be touched and transformed by Him.
Simply sit, relaxed and quiet, enjoying your own inner calm and silence. For a few moments, listen to His presence and allow yourself to be touched by it.
After a time, perhaps a single word will come: Jesus, Lord, Love, or any word that captures your response to His inner presence. Place into this word all your faith, your love, as you enter more and more deeply into Him. Slowly and effortlessly, repeat your word. Allow it to lead you more and more deeply into God’s presence at the center of your being, where you are in God and God in you. Surrender to His re-freshment and re-creation.
Center all your attention and desire on Him, leaving your faculties at peace, allowing Him to draw you into His perfect prayer of adoration, love and praise. Let it happen. Whenever you become aware of any thoughts or images, simply return to your word.
In coming out of prayer, move slowly to silent awareness and then a conscious interior prayer, such as the Our Father, savoring the words and meaning, entering into them.
The centering prayer may be used once or twice daily for twenty minutes or more.
If you are faithful to it, you will soon discern in your life the maturing of the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and kindness. You shall be truly abiding in Him and He in you.
This exercise can be utilized anywhere and at any time. Enter into this exercise to quiet your heart and mind. There are several smart phone apps that can aide in the process. Remember there is no right or wrong way to do this exercise and the success of the venture is to simply enter the quiet. In the Centering Prayer we practice what we will experience in eternity – being in the Lord’s presence. We don’t call out, “Lord be present” rather “Lord help me to be aware of your presence.”