The Gentle Stirring of Love
The contemplative Christian classic The Cloud of Unknowing teaches, “Lift your heart up to the Lord with a gentle stirring of love, desiring him for his own sake and not for his gifts.”
We enter centering prayer with no expectations. We enter to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, in which we experience God’s presence within. It is just God and us. Our whole being, body, mind, and soul, marinates in the Mystery. It is a prayer of love without ulterior motives. We pray because we love God. That is our only motivation.
This means I do not enter centering prayer for the fruits. During centering prayer I let go of expectations, and by doing so, I create a space for God to move. I say, “Here I am God. Do with me whatever you want”. When I let go, anything can happen. God can act within me in whatever way She chooses. Each time I sit with God is another opportunity for God to act. God also acts within me during my non-centering times.
David Frenette said, “You learn to float in God in prayer in order to swim with God in life.” During my non-centering times, I swim with God in life and notice what God has prayed in me. Others notice what God has prayed in me. I discover that God has given me a gift. I experience the side effects of centering prayer—the fruits.
When I started centering prayer God said, “Rich, slow down! I want you to see the things that you previously overlooked.” Contemplative life is about being willing to slow down enough to see the marvels of life at work all around us. The speed of our affluent technological society is daunting. Slowing down through centering prayer helps us counteract the incessant speed. It helps us reconnect with simple pleasures and the wonders of our younger years.
That is one of the fruits of centering prayer that I’ve experienced. There are others.
Rich Lewis is an author, speaker and coach who focuses on centering prayer as a means of inner transformation. His book, Sitting with God: A Journey to Your True Self Through Centering Prayer (288 pages) is available now.
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