Discernment and Centering Prayer

The other day in GOHOP’s staff meeting, we embarked on a discernment process regarding our ministry goals and activities for the new year.

We began the process with a time of centering prayer, which is a form of Christian meditation. Don’t worry everyone, we weren’t at tuning ourselves to the vibrations of the universe, or chanting ohms. But why should the New Agers get all the good prayer methodologies? We’ve got to reclaim what is ours, and has been ours for millennia. Centering prayer is an ancient monastic practice.

In centering prayer, we sit quietly, usually feet firmly planted on the floor, and back straight (no slouching!). We pick a simple phrase (often a short scripture passage), quietly attune ourselves to our breath, and then “breathe our prayer”. When we become mentally distracted (which for me is usually about a nanosecond in), we just bring ourselves back to our breathing prayer. For those who practice regularly, it is recommended you practice it twice a day for 20 minutes each time.

The goal is to quiet our hearts before God and to be attuned to His presence within and around us. To present ourselves before Him and commune with Him quietly.

The breathing prayer I encouraged our staff to use this time was “Abba, I am Yours alone.”

Why that one?

Abba

I wanted us to position ourselves before God in the posture of a child, beloved of the Father. When thinking about and planning for the future, it’s easy to get caught up in other identities, and to find ourselves driven by tasks and goals rather than drawn by grace. If GOHOP were to close today and we were no longer urban missionaries, what would we be? Simply His children, His beloved ones. I want our team to live and work out of that belovedness, not out of their job descriptions.

I am Yours alone

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about consecration these days, as we embark on a new year. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price. We belong to God. What would it look like for me, for our team, to be fully and freely given over to Him? Holding nothing back? What would it look like for us to discard ego attachments to our positions, our accomplishments? I would love to find out.

After fifteen minutes of silent centering prayer, my phone alarm went off (I set it so I wouldn’t have to watch the clock). “Just like the ancients!” My friend Matt quipped.

Then we transitioned into the prayer of indifference, but more about that in a post to come…

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