Christian Contemplative Prayer and Centering Prayer

“Contemplative prayer is a process of interior purification leading, if we consent, to divine union.”
Thomas Keating

Christian Contemplative Prayer, as Father Thomas Keating describes it, is “the opening of mind and heart –our whole being- to God, the ultimate mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions.” Contemplative prayer has roots in the early Christian church. Developed by saints and long practiced by monks, nuns and mystics, the practice was little known among lay Christians when Eastern forms of meditation began to arrive in the West in the second half of the 20th century.

Christian Monks, such as Thomas Merton and Father Keating investigated Zen meditation and other meditation forms and found an easy confluence of traditions. The emptying of ego-mind experienced by Christian Zen meditation practitioners prepared them for a deeper entry into contemplative prayer.

In the 1980s, Fr. Keating developed the method of centering prayer as a meditation form appropriate for Christians seeking to deepen their spirituality. The method, and a more complete description of the context in which it is practiced are described on the Contemplative Outreach website. 

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© 2003 Tom Barrett