Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Centering Prayer and other Variations in Style


By Judy Kuiper

Judy Kuiper describes some of what she and others at Mosaic Life Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are doing to deepen their inner life of prayer. Judy is an RCA member who has been commissioned to lead workshops on centering prayer.

I would like to let you know the plans for prayer we are making at Mosaic Life Church. The following are the kinds of things we plan to begin teaching this fall at our church and we hope to open it to the public as well. We plan to call this the "Center for Contemplative Living: Awakening to the Presence of God 24/7." I am a licensed candidate for ministry in North Grand Rapids Classis and in May will also be a licensed psychologist. I have been working at Christian Counseling in Grand Rapids for the past year.

Centering Prayer: a practice of resting in God. Recommended 20 minutes twice daily for the healing of the unconscious patterns we all have developed over our lifetime. We teach centering prayer in four one-hour sessions. (This can be a Saturday from 9:00 to 3:00 with a one-hour lunch and breaks.) Six additional weeks of one-hour sessions continue the learning. Then it is best if people come weekly for a 60- to 90-minute session to maintain the practice and continue learning. I am one of four people in West Michigan commissioned by Contemplative Outreach to teach centering prayer. The Rev. Dr. David Muyskens, a retired Reformed Church minister, is another.

Welcoming Prayer: a practice of naming and feeling our pain, both emotional and physical; welcoming God into the midst of the pain; and then using a liturgy of letting go. Again, there is usually a four- to six-hour workshop to teach the practice, which is then reinforced periodically in the centering prayer sessions.

Lectio Divina: a practice in which we listen for the voice of God in Scripture directed to the individual's particular need. I am unclear about how to best present an initial teaching of lectio. I think it can be done in many different methods. It can also be reinforced with the weekly centering prayer sessions.

I am still working on practicing the following regularly in my own life and need more study before I will teach them, but I already recognize their healing power.

Active Prayer: a prayer that an individual chooses that is particularly meaningful to him or her for the purpose of erasing old damaging cognitive tapes.

Attention/Intention: a practice of paying attention to the present moment with the intention of actively doing things for the love of God.

Discernment: practices that help us discern God's will in our lives.

Forgiveness: learning to forgive ourselves and other people, as well as letting others forgive us.

Prayer through Us: "And with that [Jesus] breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22). "They saw...tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3).

Suggestions for Meaningful Prayer in Small Groups

  • Make praying together a high priority.
  • Be sensitive to group participants.
  • Don't talk about who/what needs prayer--start praying!
  • Include prayers of praise and thanks.
  • Be creative; use variety.
  • Weave prayer throughout the meeting time occasionally rather than praying "bookend prayers."
  • Break up into groups of two or three for prayer.
  • Ask men to pray for men and women for women.
  • Pray for the person on your right. Barb and Sherwin
  • Focus on particular needs/situations: church leadership, non-Christian neighbors and friends, marriages, families, schools, media/entertainment, etc.
  • Sing together, or use recorded music to begin prayer time.
  • Use periods of silent prayer.
  • Ask different group participants to plan and direct prayer time.
  • Take a prayer walk together.
  • Use the model of the Lord 's Prayer.
  • Between meetings, pray for those in your small group regularly.

These ideas are from Barb Schutt, chair of the HOPE (Houses of Prayer Equipping) team. Barb is pictured with fellow HOPE team member and fundraising chair Sherwin Weener.

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