Forget what you’ve been taught about God. Let silence speak.
Exploring Belief, 12th Sep 2016 no comments
For many, the concept of ‘God’ may still be uncomfortable, or unclear, but the practice of silent prayer, letting go of your own thoughts and allowing the spirit of God to dwell in you, can be the beginning of healing and a new spiritual reality, as Rich Lewis has found out.
It may not always be possible to heal our bodies, but however difficult our circumsances, I believe God’s healing can penetrate our inner self, our soul. For me this has been through a daily practise of centering prayer. To put it simply, silent, or centering prayer is when we let go of our own thoughts and ideas about God, and wait in quietness for God to meet with us. We simply ‘let go’, and let God act.
When we’re young we’re taught to speak our prayers, but centering praying is less about conversation and more about communion. It is a practice that I enter with no expectations. I simply try to sit quietly in the presence I seek. I wait and see.
Silence creates a healing space
Even though I have no expectations I am always surprised and amazed by the fruits of silent prayer. I have noticed an inner calmness despite the outer chaos. I have noticed an inner confidence despite the outer confusion. I have noticed that silent prayer teaches me how to live. It seems to show me what it is I need for that very day.
I remember the words of Thomas Keating: “In centering prayer both thoughts and silence have an important role to play. Some thoughts contain what needs to be healed and the silence creates a space for the healing to take place.”
I think everyone needs to find the form of contemplative prayer that suits them best, but let me briefly describe my own approach.
Four simple steps
Select a sacred word as the symbol of your intent to open yourself to God’s presence and action within.
Sitting comfortably, close your eyes and internally repeat the sacred word slowly and silently.
When you become aware of thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, return ever so gently to your sacred word.
At the end of the centering prayer session, remain in silence for a minute or two before you resume your daily activities.
For many, extended times of silence are very difficult. Don’t become discouraged. Start small. Take baby steps. Perhaps initially you will only be able to handle five minutes. Gradually increase the time frame of your session to fifteen or twenty minutes. Slowly incorporate a second centering prayer time into your day.
The best description I know of contemplative prayer is “resting in God”. Contemplative prayer is resting in the rest of God.
Rich Lewis is daily practitioner of centering prayer. He teaches contemplative prayer in his local community at churches, colleges and universities. Rich also co-leads the RCMR team (www.RCMR5.org) and is currently writing a book with Amos Smith, author of Healing the Divide scheduled to come out in 2018. He has a personal blog http://silenceteaches.com You can also follow Rich on Twitter @richlewis01