I am excited to share my interview with Dr. Philip St. Romain regarding his course Christian Prayer Methods.
Prayer is a core Christian practice, but for many, this means “saying prayers” or asking God for various favors. In this course, Phil will review a variety of methods of prayer that have been used for centuries in Christianity.
Whether you’re a beginner who is just learning how to pray, or a more mature Christian who has been at it awhile, this course will offer specific guidance, encouragement and support for practicing several time-tested methods of prayer.
Phil is the author of 25 books on prayer and spirituality, with a background in retreat work, spiritual direction, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, and biology.
Phil works at the Heartland Center for Spirituality in Great Bend, KS, where he presents retreats, workshops, and provides spiritual direction. Visit his web site to learn more.
Why did you create this course?
Christianity has a rich tradition of teaching on prayer, but many are not familiar with it. They think that prayer means “saying prayers,” for example, and seem unfamiliar with reflective approaches like Lectio Divina and contemplative forms like Centering Prayer.
Also, it seems that many these days are more tuned in to video teachings than to books. I have written much on this topic through the years, and thought presenting a video alternative could be helpful to some. A few groups have made use of it for study and practice, and that’s heartening.
What prayer methods do you practice on a daily basis?
My mainstay is quiet, contemplative sitting, during which time I mostly wait on the Spirit to lead. When I get caught up in a distraction, I use a prayer phrase to re-focus, much like Centering Prayer recommends. I also have times when I read the morning and evening prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours. I go to Mass regularly, and do Lectio Divina with the readings of the day.
What was the first prayer method that you practiced?
I guess that would be night prayers with my Mom and Dad — just whatever they’d pray. As Catholics, we also prayed the Rosary at home and had grace before meals.
What does Jesus have to say about prayer?
He has a rather comprehensive teaching in Matthew: take time for silence, solitude, use few words, speak honestly to God. He also gives us the Lord’s Prayer, which can be understood as basic movements in prayer, beginning with praise and then going through other intentions. Then there is his example as a man of prayer.
How do we deal with distractions during prayer?
The first step is to note if you’ve gotten caught up in them, to acknowledge if you have, then to re-focus your attention unto God. Sometimes the distraction can suggest a focus for prayer — an intercession or intention to offer to God, for example. Other times, it’s best to just let it go and move on. If you quit paying attention to it, it will drop away on its own.
What attracts you to Visio Divina? I don’t think this form of prayer is common in the West.
It’s not my favorite form of prayer, but was worth mentioning as a gift from the Orthodox tradition. I’ve done this somewhat and have found it rewarding. Inevitably, I am drawn to let go of even this method to simply rest in God.
How has your prayer life evolved over the years?
It’s been a fairly typical journey, moving from active forms of prayer when young to more contemplative forms as I’ve aged. I’m almost 67 now, and since around the age of 40 or so, the contemplative approach has predominated.
How can prayer help people?
Prayer is the difference between a faith that is living and one that is stale. As Mother Teresa put it, “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. . .” So prayer is the means by which our faith relationship with God is strengthened and deepened.
It also becomes the context for awakening to our true self, the person we discover ourselves to be in the light of God’s unconditional acceptance. Without prayer, it’s very difficult to break free from a false identity based on our own or others’ ideas of who we really are.
What advice do you have for beginners to prayer?
The most important thing is to do it regularly, to set aside a time daily and stick to it, whether you feel like it or not. It needs to become just “something you do,” like taking a shower or eating breakfast. It’s also good to learn a few methods like those the course presents. This helps your soul learn how to open to God. In time, you will be drawn to use the method needed at that particular time in your life.
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I am currently taking on clients for Centering Prayer One on One Coaching sessions. I am happy to setup weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions with you over the phone or skype to help you go deeper into your centering prayer practice and integrate it into your daily life. Contact me for more information. The first session is 1/2 off.
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The Way of the Wisdom Jesus: Going Beyond the Mind to the Heart of His Teaching – If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. In this online course, Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader Cynthia Bourgeault serves as a masterful guide to Jesus’s vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teaching for yourself.
Our friends at Contemplative Light are offering Contemplative Practices. This course examines in-depth traditional practices of the Christian mystics, including: The Examen, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer and Christian Meditation.
I am currently reading Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass and rereading A Taste of Silence by Carl J Arico. I just finished The Bible Makes Sense by Walter Brueggemann, Presence and Process: A Path Toward Transformative Faith and Inclusive Community by Daniel P. Coleman and Intimacy with God: An Introduction To Centering Prayer by Thomas Keating.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. It is based on his book Simply Jesus. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
This course is a short course based on Prof. N.T. Wright’s latest book, Simply Good News. Tom Wright will guide you through the chapters of his book through videos that suggest what some of the main points are. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. You will be brought into their world in order to make more sense of what ‘good news’ means in our world.
Check out my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain. Explore prayer methods that go back to Jesus.
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – This is a great way to listen to books with your cell phone while you drive, walk or relax at home. I frequently listen in my car during my commute to and from work. I’m a proud affiliate.
David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
I use a Prayer Rope after each Centering Prayer Sit. Learn more about how to pray with a prayer rope.
Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)