Q: I have tried to practice Centering Prayer for a while. I have been wondering if my intent of receiving the inner peace and silence from practicing is a “legitimate” reason, or if I’m looking for personal gains only, and this may not be a good reason to pursue practice? What do you advise anybody interested in Centering Prayer to think or do about motivations and intentions when considering this path of spirituality?
A: First of all your perseverance in keeping the prayer in your life is a grace. Second, your intention of inner peace and silence are actually fruits of the prayer, rather than the primary intention which is CONSENT. If the intention to consent is clear, then inner peace and silence can become a reality in God‚Äôs time and God‚Äôs way. I always recommend that at the beginning of each Centering Prayer session, the person renews their intention to consent to God‚Äôs presence and action within.
The beauty of the practice is not only that it celebrates consent but it moves us into the intimacy of the relationship. As consenting becomes deeper there is a sense of trust that begins to rise from within. That trust opens one to truly surrender more and more without as many strings attached. I remember my parents warning me about the strings, those unspoken conditions that are present when one seems to give freely. At this stage of maturity, the surrender is unconditional ‚Äì stringless – and this blossoms into receptivity, the willingness to receive and to be guided in a new dance with God. Looking at the total picture, it is a three-step dance of consenting, surrendering and receiving.
‚Äì Fr. Carl.