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Q&A with Fr. Carl Arico ~ Feeling as Nothing
Q: After many years of Centering Prayer and feeling that I was just where I should be, things have changed for me. When I go to prayer there is nothing but thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. And I am thinking, Who am I fooling? Myself? God, if there really is one? Other people? There is nothing. Nothing! I feel like a cheater, a make believer! There’s nothing there? Is this all a hoax? I am empty and I don’t feel like this is the “dark night of the soul.” I feel like it is nothing.
A: Thank you for your question. These are not easy times for you in prayer. It is noteworthy that your questioning begins concerning your own worth. This is the first temptation.
Let's step back for a moment. Remember how in the teaching of Centering Prayer you heard that when we say 'let us pray' we are saying 'let us have a relationship'? Your faithfulness to Centering Prayer shows your willingness to enter more deeply into relationship with God. Now, in every relationship there are times when there is dryness and feelings of frustration - wondering ‘where am I going in this relationship?; is it worth the effort?, am I really being appreciated?, it felt so good in the beginning' …etc. What does the lover do at this time - run away or work things out? When the lover stays to work things out, remembering that God loves you unconditionally, then it is worth staying faithful, letting go of expectations and allowing the prayer to go into a deeper level. Remember: this is a life long commitment not just an affair.
These are my recommendations: Re-read the leaflet on Centering Prayer (see Centering Prayer Brochure); attend a retreat or another introductory session on Centering Prayer; read the question and answer sections in Open Mind Open Heart. What you need is a honeymoon and a fresh start to build on your years of commitment to the prayer.
And remember when you begin to feel as nothing - meaning your fixed point of reference is disappearing - then you begin to allow the Lord to be the center of your life once again.
So just begin again and again and again. – Fr. Carl.
For more Q & A regarding Centering Prayer visit the Resources/Articles area.