48: The Seven Moments of Centering Prayer

Photo by Diane Walker

Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed
we shall be like him.
– 1 John 3:2

“Spiritual awareness opens us to deeper levels of our being that we perhaps never had any suspicion existed. One of these might be called the true self which is another word for the image of God in which we were created – God’s idea of who we are, manifested in our particular uniqueness.”

– Thomas Keating, from the Session 47 video


In this session’s video, Fr. Thomas introduces us to the seven moments of Centering Prayer, an unfolding psychological process we go through in Centering Prayer and then day after day, and year after year. This process opens up our awareness of these deeper levels of being. We begin to experience God’s healing action, what Fr. Thomas calls the Divine Therapy.

The first moment of Centering Prayer is when we settle into our intention to consent to God’s presence and action within by introducing our sacred word. During the second moment we start to quiet down and experience the rest that begins to work on the unconscious. The third moment may bring feelings of uneasiness and apprehension because our defense mechanisms are lowered and repressed psychological material starts to emerge. In the fourth moment we may begin to feel the emotions we dreaded or experience psychological insights. We don’t pursue insights during prayer but allow feelings to surface as part of the healing process. The fifth moment is acceptance. We allow the body to feel what we have avoided feeling so that we don’t perpetuate the pain. Acceptance moves us into the sixth moment which is evacuation, getting rid of the emotional junk of a lifetime. With each evacuation the spirit rushes into the empty places and fills us up with the capacity for human health, the seventh moment.

Each time we move through the cycle of the moments of Centering Prayer, we get closer to the center, our True Self and the Divine Indwelling.

A Meditation

“The benefit of Centering Prayer is most available in its effects in daily life than during the psychological experiences of a particular prayer time… Some sessions with your psychotherapist are painful; you’d just as soon drop those… [But] we have to let go of our expectations as a part of the entrance into the prayer.

“…That’s done simply by introducing our intention, just to consent to God’s presence and action without any other effort at all the whole of this time. Gradually the effects are cumulative, and one begins to more frequently access the source of God’s presence within and also to perceive the divine action in daily life, which is incredibly detailed and is prepared to live every day with us as a companion [presence].”

– Thomas Keating, “Centering Prayer,” Invitation from God


When you call to Me, I will answer you;
I will be with you…
I will…reverence your life.
All through the years, will I dwell
in your heart,
as Loving Companion Presence,

– Nan C. Merrill, “Psalm 91,” Psalms for Praying

To Practice
  • View the video excerpt “The Seven Moments of Centering Prayer” which is about 13 minutes in length.
  • Ponder how you are experiencing the seven moments of Centering Prayer in your life. Many of us struggle with allowing ourselves to feel some of these emotions we have suppressed or dreaded feeling. If we consent to God’s presence and action, the “emotional junk” is being evacuated and the Spirit is filling us. All that is required is that we take in what is offered and observe and feel them.


“The Seven Moments of Centering Prayer” excerpted from DVD 4 “The Human Condition,” Sounds True Introduction to Centering Prayer, 13 mins.
For English captions and auto-translation of subtitles, watch here on YouTube:
To download this video (English only) click here:

Download Video


Download Transcript

Audio for this Narrative

“The Seven Moments of Centering Prayer” excerpted from DVD 4 “The Human Condition,” Sounds True Introduction to Centering Prayer, 13 mins.
Listen to this audio here (English Only):
Download Audio file (English Only):
Download Audiofile
Resources for Further Study:
You may wish to read chapter 4 in Intimacy with God (20th anniversary edition), Chapter 8 in older editions.

Additional Resources