Centering Prayer Group Program

Here is the program we use for the Grace Church Brooklyn Heights contemplative prayer group on Tuesday nights at 7 pm.

• Psalm with choice of antiphon

In the shadow of your wings I rejoice, alleluia.
God whispers to the heart, “Be still; I am with you.”

We chant a psalm using an antiphon, which is a repeated line or refrain. The leader begins by chanting the antiphon once and you may then repeat it if you choose. The leader then chant the text of the psalm, interspersed with the antiphon. Whenever you hear the antiphon repeated, feel free to join in.

• Welcome 

Welcome to the Grace Church contemplative prayer group.  This is a place for all God’s people.  Whatever your beliefs or doubts you are always welcome here.  If you are new to centering prayer, just follow the instructions as the evening unfolds. You are also welcome to use the silence in any other way that is right for you. 

• Intercessory Prayer 

Loving God, we ask for your blessings upon this gathering.
Recognizing that we bring the joys and sorrows of our lives here, 
if anyone would like to mention silently or aloud any special intentions for this time of prayer, please do so now. . . . 

God, we trust that you hear our prayers, silent or spoken, wordless or in words.

• Preparation for centering prayer

The facilitator leads the group into the meditation with a few brief instructions and says a short prayer of invocation. At this time you may dedicate your time of prayer to a particular person or concern.

 • First 20 minute period of centering prayer
Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to be open to God’s presence. It can be any word that reminds you to be present to God. (Examples of a sacred word: God, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Mary, Amen, Love, Listen, Peace, Mercy, Let Go, Silence, Stillness, Faith, Trust, Holy, Glory) Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, silently begin to repeat the sacred word, which points you gently towards God. When you are ready, you can let go of the sacred word and simply rest in God. When thoughts arise, gently let go of them and return to the sacred word. It is also possible to practice centering prayer with a sacred breath as the sacred symbol instead of a sacred word. When using the sacred breath, you do not follow the breath, as in Zen meditation, but simply notice it. Read more about centering prayer.

 Walking meditation
As we walk around the room, you can continue to use the sacred word to let go of thoughts, or you can focus on the feeling of your body moving through space or the feeling of your feet touching the floor in order to let go of thoughts and be fully present.

• Second 20 minute period of centering prayer

 Lectio divina
In lectio divina, we listen to scripture or a spiritual reading with the ear of the heart. The facilitator and/or other members of the group read a passage three or four times, leaving a period of silence after each reading. A short passage works well. Read more about lectio divina.

• Closing Prayer, either the Casa del Sol Prayer or the Night Prayer from A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa