Be still … and know
– Psalm 46:11
When Fr. Thomas explains the method of Centering Prayer in Session 3, he tells us that Centering Prayer is, “first and foremost a relationship and the method is totally in service of the relationship.” Now we will explore what he means by prayer as relationship.
So far, Fr. Thomas has told us two things that begin to point us towards developing a relationship with God. The first is in Intimacy with God. He says, “The Christian spiritual path is based on a deepening trust in God.” Deepening trust in any relationship, including with God, is a process that takes time and commitment. The process moves us from acquaintanceship to friendliness to friendship, and ultimately, if we consent, to intimacy.
The second is in an audio recording Who is God? from the 2000 Chicago Annual Conference, where Fr. Thomas says, “If you want to get to know who God is, why don’t you let him introduce himself?” When we pray with words it is usually we who are doing all the talking. Fr. Thomas repeatedly reminds us that God’s first language is silence. When we are able to follow the instructions in Psalm 46:11, “Be still and know that I am God,” we dispose ourselves to getting to know God in a different way than we might have been accustomed in the past.
“Jesus’ center point was not an idea or theory about anything but, in fact, a Person – a thoroughly reliable, universal Love that he called ‘Father.’ (You do not need to use the word ‘Father,’ but I encourage you to find some form of endearment that inspires your trust because you will never fall in love with a mere idea.) This new Realm is based on a relationship with a God who can be experienced personally, presently, and existentially.”
– Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, January 19, 2018
Jesus referred to God as Father, but also called him Abba, a more endearing term that Fr. Thomas says really means “Daddy.” What is your term of endearment for God?
“The Christian tradition is the transmission of the relationship with the living God that Jesus experienced. Participation in his own consciousness of God as Abba is what Jesus called the Kingdom of God. This kingdom is not a geographical location, an institution, or a form of government. It is a state of consciousness and of enlightened faith. To enter it, the preconceived ideas and pre-packaged values that we brought with us from early childhood have to be re-evaluated and outgrown.”
– Thomas Keating, Manifesting God
- View the video excerpt “Prayer as Relationship,” featuring Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler from Centering Prayer: A Training Course for Opening to the Presence of God from Sounds True. It is about 14 minutes in length.
- Reflect on these questions: How has my relationship with God changed or deepened with my Centering Prayer practice? Have the terms you use for God changed over time?
Resources for Further Study:
You may wish to read Chapter 1, “Prayer as Relationship,” from Manifesting God