Amount of time for Centering Prayer

Q:  I have been practicing Centering Prayer for about a year now. I wanted to increase my time to 40 minutes because I was used to sitting for a half hour when I was doing a more concentrative meditation before I adopted Centering Prayer. I find that the first thing in the morning the 40 minutes is fine but when I pray in the late afternoon or evening, the 40 minutes very often feels long. So I’ve been doing the 40 minutes first thing in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon or evening. Is there any disadvantage to doing centering prayer for different durations like this? Should I just stick to 30 minutes?  

A:  You are celebrating your prayer from a very generous heart. The desire to spend more time is a marvelous gesture. But do not fall into the numbers game – 40 plus 40, or 40 plus 30,  etc., etc. This is one of the subtle temptations that can lure one into the swamp of spiritual pride, i.e., it is all about what I am accomplishing.

It seems to me that you have created a workable discipline – 40 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. Stay with that until you are moved by the Spirit to increase or lessen the time. Remember: more is not necessarily better and less is not necessarily bad. Moderation in all things is a good general rule for a generous soul like you. 

Blessings and enjoy,

Fr. Carl