Prayer is one of the most profound and powerful methods we possess to effect change within the human heart and society at large. The fruits of prayer spill over into one's daily life. Energy rooted in Divine love feeds and sustains, animates and invigorates us. From this deep well flows one's unique way of being the Divine presence in the world. Contemplative prayer especially opens in us an avenue for personal transformation that affects relationships with God, self, others, and all of creation.
"Contemplative Prayer," as described by Thomas Keating in his book, Open Mind, Open Heart, "is considered to be the pure gift of God. It is the opening of mind and heart—our whole being—to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing - closer than consciousness itself." Contemplative prayer, described as resting in God, a quiet abiding in the Divine presence, was considered the normal development of the Christian spiritual journey until the time of the Reformation. The contemplative tradition practically disappeared until the twentieth century where it resurged in the form of Centering Prayer in the early seventies. Centering Prayer is a method that regains and renews that part of our Christian heritage dating back from the fourth century with the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Fr. Thomas Keating, Fr. William Meninger, and Fr. Basil Pennington reformatted the monastic contemplative tradition into a method of prayer that could be understood and practiced by ordinary people. To teach the Centering Prayer method, as well as support those who practice it, Thomas Keating formed Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. in the early eighties. This organization is now international in scope.
"Centering Prayer facilitates the development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to receive this gift." (Fr. Keating) Centering Prayer fosters a receptive stance, opens inner space, and helps silence the noise on one level, while healing and transformation occur on a much deeper level. Centering Prayer is a simple method of sitting quietly once or twice per day with the loving intention to "consent to God's presence and action within" and appeals to people of all faiths and walks of life.