The goal of Christian life is union with God because God invites us to unite with him. Therefore, when we pray, we pray to develop a relationship with God. Our relationship with God grows from acquaintance to friendliness to friendship and finally to communion with God. All prayers, liturgies and sacraments are directed toward this goal of union with God
When we begin in Christian life, we begin by praying aloud, with vocal prayer. It grows into reflective prayer and then into affective prayer (or devotional prayer for some people). Finally, it develops into contemplative prayer.
Contemplative prayer is the final goal of all the prayers in the prior levels of prayer. In contemplative prayer God gives our souls rest (“….I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.” [Psalm 131:2]). Perhaps that is why a sixth century pope, St. Gregory the Great, called contemplative prayer “resting in God.” Contemplative prayer also heals and purifies us to make us worthy of communion with Him.
Every Christian is called to contemplative prayer. Jesus himself taught, “But when you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”(Matt 6:6) (In some translations, “repay you” becomes “reward you”).
The original meaning of prayer, shela, in the Aramaic that Jesus spoke, means “to open to God” or to “listen to God” with our whole being. The word “reward” translates “blossoming” or “flourishing.” Thus when we pray in our inner room we open our whole being to God, and the fruit of that prayer is the blossoming and flourishing of our lives. This is because in that secret place God nourishes and nurtures our being, our souls.
Centering prayer is thus a method of praying that leads us into contemplation and contemplative prayer. Centering prayer takes to heart the wisdom of Jesus when he spoke about prayer in secret. Centering prayer is just as suitable today as it was in Jesus’ time. Any Christian can practice centering prayer because the method leading to it is simple and easy to practice.
Our Lady of Grace Church offers the opportunity to advance to contemplative prayer through the centering prayer method. It can lead to the same experience of blossoming and flourishing that Jesus referred to as “abundant life.” (“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
A group of Our Lady of Grace parishioners and others seeking to advance in centering prayer meets at 9 a.m. every Thursday morning in Room 2 of the ParishLifeCenter at Our Lady of Grace Church, 6 Roosevelt Boulevard, Beverly Hills, FL. They welcome anyone interested to join them in prayer, hear the witness of members, and advance toward contemplation and communion with God.