Centering Prayer: Renewing An Ancient Christian Prayer Form – Book Review

Let me share some insight I gained from Basil Pennington’s book, “Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form. [1]

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This is a wonderful book on centering prayer! I encourage both new and experienced centering prayer practitioners to check it out.

Four Questions

  1. What happens during centering prayer? “In Centering Prayer we go beyond thought and image, beyond the senses and the rational mind, to that center of our being where God is working a wonderful work.”
  2. Why should we practice centering prayer? “God made us to be his intimate friend; that is the message woven through the whole of Scripture.” Basil reminds us we enter centering prayer with no expectations. We enter centering prayer because we love God.
  3. Who is called to live a contemplative life style? “All are called to the intimacy of contemplative union with God, not just a chosen few.”
  4. What does centering prayer teach us? “It is meant to open the way to living constantly out of the center, to living out of the fullness of who we are.” Centering prayer teaches us how to live. Our silent times show us best how to live during our non silent times.

Next Steps

The best gift we can give is to share centering prayer with others. “If we experience in our own selves the need, the value, and the joy of being in touch with the contemplative dimension of our lives, then is it not incumbent upon us to seek to make this possible also for others? “Freely have you received, freely must you give.”

Centering prayer is not meant to be kept hidden. Share the gift of centering prayer with others!

Go Further:

M. Basil Pennington, Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form

M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer

M. Basil Pennington, An Invitation to Centering Prayer: Including an Introduction to Lectio Divina


[1] M. Basil Pennington, Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form, (Doubleday 1980)

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Centering Prayer as Practice and Process by Contemplative Outreach, Pamela Begeman, Mary Anne Best, Julie Saad: If you are new to Centering Prayer or wishing to renew your practice, this retreat will assist you with deepening your relationship with God. We will focus on teaching and practicing the method of Centering Prayer; review its place in the Christian tradition, its conceptual background, and psychological process; and share insights into establishing Centering Prayer as a way of life.

Lean In, Lighten Up and Let Go Practices for a Deeper Commitment to the Contemplative Life by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer: This retreat encourages a life of prayer and practice, both “on the chair” and in daily life. It will support you in making a deeper commitment to your relationship with God, and strengthen your ability to live the contemplative life through dedication to prayer and practice, all within the normal routines of everyday life.

Contemplative Discernment by Fr. Carl Arico, Pamela Begeman, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler: A contemplative practice of discernment is not about decision-making, although this may be an eventual outcome. Rather, contemplative discernment is receptive in nature, a process of opening to receive clues about who we are in God. We focus on ever-deepening levels of relationship and trust in God’s will for us. We learn how to listen deeply to our motivations and sort through and purify any mixed motivations. As this relationship deepens, we learn to allow the love of God to motivate our actions and manifest through us. We discover what it means to truly pray “not my will, but Thy will.”

Embracing Living: The Welcoming Prayer by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer, Therese Saulnier, Cherry Haisten, Jim McElroy: The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to events and situations in daily life. If Centering Prayer (or another daily prayer) is practiced for one hour of the day, the Welcoming Prayer is for the other 23 hours. It is a “letting go” in the present moment, in the midst of the activity of ordinary life.

Practicing the Presence of God by Pamela Begeman, Mary Ann Brussat, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, David Frenette: We live in a world of complexity, fragmentation, noise, and haste. We sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of tasks, appointments, and commitments facing us. How can we experience God in the midst of the busyness, responsibilities, and activities of our daily lives? By practice. By living more in the present moment. By practicing the presence of God in the present moment.

Writing as a Spiritual Practice: This course helps you to access the rich spiritual stories that lie deeply within you. Words are powerful. The words that you write can be used to:

  • help you understand yourself better – and therefore divine God’s purpose in your life
  • facilitate healing of spiritual wounds
  • minister to others more effectively
  • share your testimonies of how God has worked in your life

Drawing from the wisdom of monastic life, modern psychology and best practices in personal productivity, the Monk Manual provides a daily system that will help you find clarity, purpose, wisdom, and peace in the moments that make up your life.

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