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A Form of Centering Prayer
Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer
Set aside at least 5 minutes for quiet prayer without distraction. You may want to set a timer, so that you can be fully present without feeling the need to check the time.
Turn off or silence your phones and other devices so that you can be alone with God
Find a place where you can sit quietly and comfortably
As you sit in silence, focus first on your breath. Find a steady rhythm, typically about 5-6 seconds on the inhale and about 8 seconds on the exhale, as able, pausing (holding your breath) on the exhale for 5-6 seconds, as able, before taking another breath.
Try not to breathe deeply
Breathe through your nose into your diaphragm (not your chest), without the felt need to fill your lungs completely
Focus on breathing slowly
As you find your rhythm, begin to pray, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." This is what’s known as the Jesus prayer. It’s simple. It follows a rhythmic breath. And it aligns our heart with the grace and forgiveness of Christ, as we invite God’s mercy, acknowledge our complete dependence on the grace of God in Christ. This prayer should not make you feel less or guilty. Confessing that we are sinners before God is not to make us feel bad about things we may have done in the past, or to feel bad about who we are; rather, it is a reminder that without God’s love we are nothing, but because of God’s love we have everything. This is a freeing prayer, not a constrictive one.
As you inhale, pray in your heart, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
As you exhale, pray again in your heart, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Pausing while briefly holding your breath on the exhale, again pray in your heart, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, haver mercy on me, a sinner."
Repeat this triplet of prayerful meditation for five minutes (or longer)
NOTE: if you have trouble maintaining a consistent breathing pattern using the Jesus Prayer, simply adapt this prayer to the pattern of breathing you are able to maintain with a consistent rhythm. This form of centering prayer should not cause distress. Build up to the rhythm prescribed over time, as able.
When you finish this cycle of prayer, sit quietly in the peace that now rests upon you.
Before you go about your day or wander off to sleep, pray slowly, either quietly or aloud, the Lord’s Prayer.
If you practice this daily, you will find yourself more attentive to the work of Love in you, and your awareness of the work of Love in others will grow accordingly.
After a few days of practicing this rhythm of prayer, reflect on how this practice is attuning your senses to God's love and mercy. What do you notice newly about others, your environment, your own state of peace or anxiety? Write these down as a way of marking how a regular rhythm of prayer and silence with God is increasing your attention to the work of Love in the depths of your mind, body and spirit.