Q: My problem is in understanding in what way and how God works in me in Centering Prayer. I know that to enter in Centering Prayer is to let go of all thoughts and words and verbal or silent “actual/conventional” prayer and to just be in God’s presence and let God work in me, but how do I know what and that God has worked in me?? It feels to me ( after several “efforts”) that there is nothing and I feel like a hypocrite and that it would be more beneficial if I could also talk to God from the heart rather than just waiting thoughtlessly for twenty minutes. Is it a matter of giving it more time or must I accept that Centering Prayer is not meant for everyone?
A: What I hear you asking is how God works in you during Centering Prayer. I have once again asked the advice of the Saint Vincent’s Church Centering Prayer group that I attend. What follows reflects our combined wisdom and experience with the prayer and its process.
The overall comment was that the fruits of our prayer are not experienced during the prayer time but outside of the prayer time. You let go of your expectations and you make room for the Lord to work in your life on God‘s terms, not your own.
We also practice with the assumption and the belief that God is with us always whether we experience God’s presence or not.
Don’t underestimate the conventional prayers that are part of one’s daily life outside of the time of Centering Prayer. These are also the manifestations of the relationship we have with God; Centering Prayer is just one form of how we pray.
The group shared with each other how the fruits of Centering Prayer have manifested in our lives:
- People in our lives become aware of changes for good in us which we may never see.
- The fruits of Centering Prayer manifest in the ordinary routine of everyday life; eventually we notice little differences.
- We notices changes in our lives in hindsight — looking back we can see how it made a difference.
- The daily practice of Centering Prayer, of letting go, creates a space outside of the prayer time that leaves room for changes and healing, and for different responses in life.
- In Rick Lewis book, Sitting with God, he makes this comment, “God wants me to let go of all that I am not, so I can be who I am.”
In the goodness of God’s love, maybe the Lord wants you to notice how you asked this question. You judge yourself too harshly by saying I am getting nowhere, I feel like a hypocrite, this waiting around is not accomplishing anything.
Trust in the slow work of God. Your time in silence does make a difference.
Fr Carl Arico, with the Saint Vincent’s Centering Prayer group of Bayonne, New Jersey