Exercise 10: Centering Prayer

Father Thomas Keating has popularized a practice that is rooted in a centuries-old book called ‘The Cloud of Unknowing.’

It begins with the choice of a sacred word.  It should be noted that this sacred word might be an image, or even the breath itself.  The instructions below presume the practioner is going the word-route.

Some of the more popular words chosen include “Love”  “Loved”  “Spirit”  “God” and “Yahwew.”  Before you begin, it is wise to have chosen your sacred word.  You should stick with your sacred word at least through the duration of your practice.

Proponents of centered prayer advocate working up to 2-30 minute sessions each day.


  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor and relax.
  2. Say your sacred word.  Recognize that this is your consent to the holy spirit to come and meet with you.
  3. As best you can, clear your mind.
  4. Know that thoughts and feelings are bound to arise.  Each time they do, dismiss them gently by saying your sacred word.
  5. Set a goal of continuing this practice for at least 20 minutes; half an hour is even better.


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3 thoughts on “Exercise 10: Centering Prayer

  1. Pingback: You are welcome here. | The Faith-ing Project

  2. martinschmidtinasia

    Great list of practices! This is what I’ve been doing with my very secular-minded students in our religion classes, and it’s helping on so many levels – mental, emotional, social, spiritual. Before they pick a practice, I have them work with the Enneagram, so they know their personality type, and then can re-balance with a particular practice that matches this type. Did want to add, however, that I believe it’s always called, “Centering Prayer.” https://martinschmidtinasia.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/4816/
    Enneagram and spiritual practices: https://martinschmidtinasia.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/purifying-your-purpose-finding-and-letting-go-of-yourself-in-service-society-and-the-sacred/


    1. Jeff Post author

      You are quite right on the name! Good catch, thank you. I will change it. How lucky your students are! That sounds great! I am a teacher as well. Most of my students are on the autism spectrum and many live at the school where I teach. I did some mindfullness stuff with them over the summer, but it’s wonderful that you can dive deeper into the traditions! The idea of correlating Enneagram types with practices is wonderful. I will greatly look forward to reading what you are doing with that.



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