Session One – Grounding the Prayer of the Cloud with The Prayer of the Heart

Luciano Bartolini, Inner Space, 1986

Welcome to the first of three sessions for this Heart Intention self-guided e-course. This first session contains the following content, found below:

  • Videos:
    • Heart Intention Practice: Letting Intention and Meaning Flow into Your Daily Life (about 31 minutes) with a transcript.
    • Heart Intention Practice: Grounding the Prayer of the Cloud in the Prayer of the Heart (about 8 minutes) with a transcript.
    • Recorded practice session 1, including a time of Q&A (unedited, about 90 minutes) with a transcript.
  • Supporting diagrams which are referenced in the videos.

You are encouraged to view the videos first and then you may wish to read the supporting information below as further context, along with reviewing the diagrams provided.

The second session may be found here.

If you have any questions, please email Pamela Begeman.


About the Method of Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a receptive method of Christian silent prayer which deepens our relationship with God, the Indwelling Presence, a prayer in which we can experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to deepen that relationship.

The Guidelines:

1  Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
2  Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
3  When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
4  At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

For more information, go here.

The Cloud of Unknowing and Centering Prayer

One of the primary inspirations for Centering Prayer in the Christian contemplative tradition are the 14th-century texts, The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counsel, written by an anonymous English author.
What follows are some excerpts from The Cloud of Unknowing that relate to the third guideline of Centering Prayer:
Chapter 40:  ” …let this little word represent to you God in all God’s fullness and nothing less than the fullness of God. Let nothing except God hold sway in your heart and mind.”

Chapter 4:  “No sooner has someone turned towards God in love when through human frailty they find themselves distracted by the remembrance of some created thing or some daily care.  But no matter.  No harm done.  For such a person quickly returns to deep recollection.”
Chapter 5: “You are to concern yourself with no creatures, whether natural or spiritual, nor with their situation or doings, whether good of ill.  To put it briefly, during this work you must abandon them all.”
The Book of Privy Counsel contains advice by the author of The Cloud of Unknowing for the long-time contemplative practitioner, such as:

Chapter 8: “You can be quite sure of this, that though I am telling you to forget everything but the blind awareness of your naked existence, my purpose and intention all along has been that you should ultimately forget this awareness as well, in your awareness of the being of God. … For your longing and intention must always be to experience God in con­templation. And though, because of your spiritual rawness and inexperience, I tell you first of all to shroud and hide the awareness of God in the awareness of yourself, yet once you have become wiser through persevering in spiri­tual purity you will then strip, spoil, and divest yourself completely of any kind of self-awareness in order to be clothed with the grace and awareness of God’s very self.”

For more information on the Christian contemplative tradition, go here



Heart Intention 1: Letting Intention and Meaning Flow into Your Daily Life, David Frenette, 30.5 mins.


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Heart Intention 2: Grounding Centering Prayer and the Prayer of the Cloud, David Frenette, 8.1 mins.


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Heart Intention 3: Practice Session 1 – Grounding the Prayer of the Cloud with Prayer of the Heart, 62.9 mins.


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Additional Resources