Q: I have been doing centering prayer faithfully for a number of years. However, I am still operating on the surface, as a beginner. My prayer has not gone to a deeper level. I also don't feel that it has influenced my actions in a positive way outside my prayer time Yet I am still very drawn to it. I'm now thinking that maybe it is my will and not God's to practice. I'm thinking of no longer doing the practice. Any thoughts on this? Thank you.
A: What a gift to be so faithful all these years and persevering - that is a fruit of the prayer - that calls for celebration - You know that letting go of results and goals is a very difficult thing to do, which is why Fr. Thomas also used to say, God rest him, that Centering Prayer is a great training in letting go, and that includes our expectations and judgements.
We are all beginners - you say you are only on the surface - how do you know you are not going deeper? - is it because your having too many thoughts, too many expectations, are you watching how you are doing as you are praying?
You might not have noticed changes outside that prayer time but have you asked your good friends or family members?
Many times others read us better than we can do ourselves.
Having said that, why should you care how you are doing? When your intention is to consent to God’s presence and action within you, the only thing you need is ‘trust’ and ask for the grace of letting go of judging how you are doing.
I often have shared this comment, ‘since when does the student mark their own papers? ‘ Don’t drop out of the course- take a second look - it is a life time journey of consenting - and the Lord is a great reader of hearts.
Love to hear from you.
Have a blessed New Year, Fr Carl