What Is The Sacred Word?

“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,…

(Matthew 6: 6).

Last week I provided a summary of Centering Prayer.  I mentioned the four steps of Centering Prayer.  Today I will discuss Step 1.

Select a sacred word as the symbol of your intent to open yourself to God’s presence and action within.

It is best to keep it simple.  Choose a word with one to three syllables.  You might select:  Jesus, love, ocean or peace for example.  When I first began to practice centering prayer I used the word “Jesus”.  I also recall that I used the words “love” and “let go”.

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Some people choose an interior image rather than a word.  I receive the Richard Rohr daily meditations.  On a past meditation I noticed a Jesus icon.  I began to use this image as an interior sacred image to use during my practice. To this day, I continue to use this sacred interior image.

Amos Smith uses the sacred glance.  When my fifteen year old daughter sits with me, she does too.  The sacred glance is performed with the eyes open.  You simply stare at a spot three to five feet in the distance as a way to bring your self back to the Presence.

Lastly, some people use the sacred breath method.  They return again and again to their breath as a means to bring them back to the purpose of their sit:  to open to the presence and action of God within.

Cynthia Bourgeault reminds us, “A sacred word merely serves as a placeholder for your intention.”

David Frennete mentions, “the sacred word is sacred because it expresses your intention to consent to God’s presence and action.

I also like what David Frenette says, “You gradually become a sacred word yourself, silently spoken by God to the world around you.

It is best to use the same sacred method during your silent sit.  If you find that you want to change it, that is fine, use your new sacred method for your next sit.  As I mentioned, I remember that I used three different words before I settled on the sacred image.  I will continue to let the Spirit nudge me.

I am a visual person.  That is probably why I gravitated to a sacred image. If you are an auditory learner you might do better with a sacred word.  If you are a kinesthetic learner, the sacred breath might work best too.

Next week I will discuss Step 2:

Sit comfortably, close your eyes and internally repeat the sacred word slowly and silently.

I hope you will continue to join me over the next three weeks.

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Go Further:

David Frenette, The Path of Centering Prayer

Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God

Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart 20th Anniversary Edition


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Does this sound like you?

“I am bored with my life?”

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-career, personal, family, community.

I feel unfulfilled, like I am just going through the motions everyday.

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I don’t want years to pass and be disappointed when I look back on my life.

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Silence and the Spiritual Journey by Contemplative Outreach: The purpose of our historical lifetime is to provide us with space for the upward journey of evolution into vertical time and our assimilation of the eternal values that Christ brought into the world. This journey consists of everything from great touches of God (consolations) to the Dark Nights.

Lectio Divina Heart to Heart – Listening and Living with God by Contemplative Outreach: The ancient practice of praying the Scriptures is being rediscovered and renewed in our time. Known as Lectio Divina (Divine Reading), it is one of the great treasures of the Christian tradition of prayer.

2 thoughts on “What Is The Sacred Word?”

  1. I’m interested in learning more about this. This is the first time I’ve run across contemplatively prayer. Do I have to spend money on books to pursue this?

    1. Hi Jean

      If you subscribe to my site via email you will automatically receive my free ebook on Centering Prayer. This will help you to learn more.

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