Q: My attempts at Centering Prayer have not been particularly good. Though I do believe that any attempts to connect with God are honoured and I know at times I have felt God’s presence and voice, but not often. It’s usually after the prayer time I feel closer & am aware of God doing things in my life.
A: Thank you for reaching out to us. Your holy desire to grow in relationship and your loving search for God through Centering Prayer is evident in your question. A new devotion takes time and discipline and sometimes our expectations bring frustration. As you may have experienced, sitting with God in silence may bring up one’s own expectations rather than the letting go of what is going on around us and within us. One’s time of being with God is best experienced by not harboring expectations while we sit letting go and letting God lead the relationship. It takes a lot of humility to let go of our false-self’s expectations which includes the wanting to be in control of the prayer relationship. Yet as we sit minute after minute, year after year, God nurtures our true-self during our prayer time which enlivens all of life – those in our immediate family and those we serve.
As you are noticing, one’s experience of God may be felt more during everyday life then during the prayer time itself. When Fr. Thomas taught the method of Centering Prayer and particularly how to handle thoughts during the prayer time, he was known to emphasis that “The principle fruits of Centering Prayer are experienced in daily life and not during the prayer period.” This is truly a blessing when we realize God with us and for us during our everyday activities.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7, St. Paul says “The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That it is for the good of all.” As a part of the body of Christ, we are invited to receive the fruits and gifts the Holy Spirit has brought alive within us to serve the community in our own special way. You have noticed God with you in everyday life, and I imagine you have noticed the gifts God has bestowed on you to serve others. This noticing and living out how God made you is a fruit of your Centering Prayer periods. Relish it, and go out and serve out this Love.
Please continue your Centering Prayer time, and as best you can don’t judge the psychological experience of the actual prayer time as you have already come to know the real fruit is in the other 23 hours of the day.
I hope this addresses your concerns. If not, please let me know. Peace be with you.
And the questioner responded: Dear Leslee, Thank you very much for your very thoughtful and detailed answer to my enquiry. I think that I will definitely need to spend more time with this devotional bearing in mind what you have said and perhaps using them as guidelines to get to grips more with what I am trying to do. I think the most difficult discipline is completely letting go of trying to lead the time and what is going on in my head. Sometimes I think there is a real battle going on inside; I know there is. I am so grateful for all your encouraging advice. Thanks again.