St. John’s Episcopal Church
207 Albany Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401

Centering Prayer

“Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation.”
― Thomas Keating from Invitation to Love

Come and sit in silence with God.

Every Wednesday evening, a group of seekers gathers in the crossing of our sanctuary to practice Centering Prayer. Popularized by Thomas Keating, Centering Prayer is an ancient contemplative practice used by many Christians all over the world to quiet the conditioned mind and cultivate an expansive space for the soul to bring forth its wisdom. As we engage in this practice, over time we find a deeper connection to God has developed because we have afforded space in our lives for God to speak to us.

We begin at 5:15 with a prelude of contemplative music led by composer Ana Hernández. At 5:45 we continue with brief instruction and the reading of a psalm. Then we sit in silence for 30 minutes, practicing the prayer form (see below). Afterwards, we engage in reflection and a lesson from a wisdom teacher. We end with intercessory prayers and a prayer for peace.

What exactly IS Centering Prayer?
Centering Prayer is similar to meditation forms from other traditions in that its method is to quiet the conditioned mind. We live in such a “noisy” world that it only takes a few moments of silence to demonstrate to us just how active our mind is – wondering, guessing, fearing, comparing, anticipating…

The practice of Centering Prayer employs a sacred word (such as God, light, Allah, heart, love, etc.) as an anchor in the stormy sea of our mind’s chatter. When we catch ourselves in the act of thinking or ruminating, we use the sacred word to return to silence.

Regular practitioners of Centering Prayer find that sometimes we need to use the sacred word just once or twice during a prayer. Other times, we need to use the sacred word over and over and over again in the course of just a few minutes. There is no perfecting this prayer. But it helps to be with others in community where we can support each other’s practice.