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 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 the New Zealand Prayer Book
The Casa del Sol Prayer
Ground of all being, Mother of life, Father of the universe,
Your name is sacred, beyond speaking.
May we know your presence,
may your longings be our longings in heart and in action.
May there be food for the human family today
and for the whole earth community.
Forgive us the falseness of what we have done
as we forgive those who are untrue to us.
Do not forsake us in our time of conflict
but lead us into new beginnings.
For the light of life, the vitality of life, and the glory of life
are yours now and for ever. Amen.
~ adapted by John Philip Newell
it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done.
What has not been done has not been done;
let it be.
The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world
and of our own lives
rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
In your name we pray.
~ A New Zealand Prayer Book