Forming a Centering Prayer Group

Forming a Centering Prayer Group – Guidelines

You need at least one other person to start a group. Faithful attendance of the leaders of the group is important for group formation. Starting with a dedicated few, the group will grow as others attend.

 Most groups meet once a week.

The primary purpose of the group meeting is to share Centering Prayer and support one another in their practice of the prayer.

Most groups meet for an hour or an hour and a half, which allows time for spiritual enrichment. This can include, among many options, watching a portion of the Spiritual Journey series by Fr. Thomas Keating or another DVD. There can be group lectio divina.  A book can be read by the group, discussing a chapter or section at each meeting.

 Part of the time of a Centering Prayer meeting can be used for group sharing. The following are Contemplative Outreach guidelines for personal sharing in small prayer groups:

1. We accept one another as we are.

2. We do not give advice.

3. We do not criticize what others share.

4. We listen attentively when someone else is speaking.

5. We keep the sharing in the group absolutely confidential.

6. We share experiences from our own lives, not abstract ideas.

7. We gather to care, not to cure or remove the crisis of pain. God does the healing.

8. We decide among ourselves how much time we will devote to sharing, making sure that each person who wishes has a chance to speak.

9. We are always free to remain silent if we wish.

The group is encouraged to adopt these guidelines; they may be read from time to time in order to keep the group unified and intentional. Try to cultivate an atmosphere in which differences are respected and honoured.

Group facilitators may need to make a quick introduction to Centering Prayer to newcomers unfamiliar with it. It is advised that the leaders have thought through how they will introduce the practice in a few sentences.

 A good way to start a group is to host an Introductory Centering Prayer Workshop. The participants are invited to attend 6 continuing sessions over the following 6 weeks, which include a period of Centering Prayer as well as teaching by Fr Thomas Keating.

The “Six Continuing Sessions by Fr Thomas Keating” are available free on YouTube and can be accessed through the website under “Resourses”

Guidelines for Facilitator

Welcome the participants.

Read the four guidelines of Centering Prayer, especially for any who are new to the prayer. Announce how the prayer period will begin and end, and the length of time for the prayer.

Ring the gong 3 times

The following prayer can be used or use a prayer of your choice.

Source of all, Saviour, Holy Spirit,

We welcome your presence at the centre of our being.

Letting go of all else, we surrender in love to you.

Let our sacred word be a symbol of our consent to your loving presence and healing action within.

Ring the gong once.

20 – 30 minutes of silence.

Ring the gong once.

The leader recites the Our Father slowly and quietly while the rest of the group are silent.

The group remain in silence for a few moments.