image courtesy of heavenawaits
A few days ago I posted several very practical ideas for improving our prayer lives. Then I published an essay covering some of the stresses of being a missionary in small-town Tanzania. Today I want to combine these ideas of prayer and stress by offering you a form of meditative prayer which will (likely) bless you greatly.
I can’t remember from whom I learned this practice, but he called it “centering down.” And I was told it was a Quaker form of prayer. I’ve done a little research since then, and it seems the idea of centering down is much bigger than this one very particular prayer practice. Centering down (as best as I can tell) is the practice of contemplative prayer which allows one to experience God’s presence deep within himself. It seems to reach well beyond thinking about God and encourages us to be one with God and to delight in his presence.
There must exist hundreds of ways to accomplish this. The method I’m offering today is only one of these. I’m not suggesting you replace your regular prayer time with this practice, but I do believe it is a wonderful discipline which will bless your life. Though I now realize “centering down” is a much broader concept, I’ll still refer to this form of meditative prayer as just that. [I’ve also heard it called “re-collection prayer.”]
- Find a comfortable seat. Don’t lean forward, though neither should you slouch as if attempting to sleep. I like to sit in a hardwood chair or even on a stool. I’m sure many sit cross-legged on the floor; I do not know, however, if they make an “O” with their thumb and index finger. I also don’t know if they refer to their sitting as “criss cross apple sauce.” But I really hope they do.
- Close your eyes.
- Place your hands face-down on your lap. This represents letting go of all that has filled your mind.
- In silence, give to God all your anxieties, concerns, and worries. Surrender to him all those thoughts which occupy your mind. I begin by thinking this phrase: “Lord I give to you….”
- Now, maintaining this same posture, rotate your hands so that your palms are face-up. This is symbolic for receiving blessings and peace from God.
- In silence, ask God to grant you peace. You may ask for any number of blessings (such as strength, courage, faith, patience, etc). I begin by saying: “Lord, please fill me with your…”
- Sit in silence for some time, focused on God — and simply resting in his presence.*
This form of prayer has helped me immensely over the past few years. One of the greatest benefits (for me) is that it helps me rid my mind of stray thoughts and concerns — so that I can practice being present with God. Fully present with him.
I can imagine, too, that centering down would be of tremendous value to those who tend to be anxious or worried.
I can’t help but think of these two passages. I’ll leave you with them:
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7
“Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” — 1 Peter 5:7