Judging our Practice


Q: I’ve been doing Centering Prayer for eight years now. I do two sessions of 20 minutes nearly every day. Sometimes I miss the 2nd sit, but that is very rare. I’ve read the bulletins and articles about not judging myself. However, I judge. I feel that my time is so distracted and I don’t see me becoming a better person. I have a spiritual advisor, he always just tells me to keep it up. I couldn’t imagine not doing my prayer but I’m wondering if you could give me any advice. Thank you for what you do.

A: I am sure you have talked this over a few times with your spiritual advisor and your spiritual advisor probably encouraged you to let go of judging and marking your prayer. The student who gets the highest mark is not necessarily the best student.

You might try a practice of Lectio Divina prayer (reading, reflecting, responding, and resting in God’s presence), pondering these two statements from Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Martin Buber. Listen to whatever the Holy Spirit shares with you. I think you’ll find a rich insight but not an answer.

I remember St Teresa of Calcutta saying, “God does not ask us to be successful, but to be faithful.“ The Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber has said that “success is not one of the names of God.”

Our part is fidelity – showing up to the prayer — not success. Your spiritual advisor is very wise. Let go of success, and you’ll find peace, allowing God to make you a better person on God’s terms.

Let me know if this has been helpful. You are in my prayers.

Blessings, Fr Carl.