4. When we sit in silent prayer, we are expressing our heart’s deepest desire to be open to God and to live with an awareness of God’s presence.

We have a short special (“sacred”) word we say silently under our breath to tell God that our intention is to let go of all the things that fill our minds and open to God’s presence in our lives. The word may be something like: peace, God, silence, Jesus, trust, open, love, Spirit. The word itself is not all that important; what makes the word sacred is how we use it in our prayer time.

We sit comfortably, close our eyes and say our special word silently a few times in our minds. Then we just sit still. We do not try to think anything, feel anything, or experience anything. We just rest in the silence. Probably the silence does not last too long; soon our minds are racing again.

Whenever we become aware that we are thinking about something, we repeat our word a few times, then stop and go back to the silence. We may use our sacred word 1,000 times. But each time we are indicating to God our intention to let go of whatever we have been thinking, return to the silence and open to God’s presence.

Each time we say our sacred word we are choosing to surrender. We are telling God that our desire is to open and allow God to be the centre of our lives. We are expressing our awareness that the things we are so preoccupied with are not the most important things. No matter what is happening, we want our lives to be centred in God’s love.

  1. The goal of Centering Prayer is twenty minutes twice a day.

Depending on a child’s age and capacity, this may be unrealistic. But any time is better than no time.

Encourage a child to start with what seems manageable and allow the practice to grow from there. Almost certainly, a child will be more inclined to sit if they are accompanied by an adult. We may need to sit with a child regularly for a long time before the practice becomes rooted in the child’s life.

The heart of centering prayer is the regular practice of surrendering to the presence and action of God. It is vital always to keep in mind that Centering Prayer is not about emptying ourselves; we are not surrendering to nothing. We are surrendering to the power and action of the Love that is our Source. When we surrender to Love, we are filled with the light and goodness of our true nature; we become more fully the people we were created to be.

There could hardly be a more valuable way for an adult to spend time than investing in encouraging children to open to the presence of God. It might be the most important thing we do for children to help them find their true identity in the love and beauty that is created in them. Supporting children in experiencing the strength and wisdom that are their birthright as children of God may be the most healing gift we can give the world.

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