What do you not have time for? (If you have 42 seconds, watch Sweet Brown tell it. And if you have 1:57 minutes, also watch the Autotune remix, but I’m warning you: the song may get stuck in your head for much longer.)
For me, I didn’t think I had time for a spiritual discipline asking for an extra 20 minutes, twice a day. Especially when I couldn’t foresee tangible benefits from it. Who’s got time for that?
But for Lent, I’d try. So off I went to a group meeting to learn and do Centering Prayer.
Centering Prayer is different. It’s not talking to God about plans, dreams, worries. It’s not confessing or thanking or even asking for help.
It is simply enjoying his presence, soaking him in.
Letting Jesus be your very center. In my year of One Word—Jesus, how appropriate.
At first I felt guilty. For 20 minutes once a day (that’s all I started with), I’d be unproductive. Not doing—just being. Silent. God and me.
I’d unzip out of my skin and expose my barest soul to the one who made it. I’d try my best not to attach to any of the thoughts roaming loose through my mind.
It was hard.
And even a month later, it still doesn’t come easily. Twenty minutes can seem like 200 as I try not to sing the playlist on shuffle in my head. Or not plan tomorrow’s to-do list. Or not engage in internal conversations with myself.
Even try not to hold on to insights I want to remember from my time in Centering Prayer.
But here’s what I am retaining: the more I do it, the more I want to do it. And the less I’d label it unproductive. Time focused on the Lord is never wasted.
Because each time I die to him in it, he never fails to resurrect me with him after it.
In letting go more of self, I’m settling firmer into God.
It’s about release.
It’s about trust.
It’s about surrendering to the pure pleasure of presence.
So instead of not having time to exercise more trust in God, I’m finding I don’t have time not to. Resting solely in his presence for those 20 minutes (or 40 on a good day) bleeds out into the remaining 23½ hours of my day.
I like to imagine Jesus elbowing God, grinning big, when he sees me setting my timer for our 20 minutes of exclusivity.
It’s our sacred space.
He’s got time for me.
All the time.
Do I have time for him?
I got time fo’ dat.
* * *
Centering Prayer is not meant to replace your regular prayer conversations, but is an additional practice in giving God your full attention.
If you want to learn more, I recommend these books:
- Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel by Thomas Keating
- Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
I also recommend this great meditation timer ($1.99 for iPhone/Android).