As a new Christian, I went around searching for guidance on the prickly problem of prayer. After a long search, dabbling in prayer beads, prayer lists, liturgies, and meditation, I realized that prayer is a mystery.

People throughout the ages have tried to explain prayer—how to do it, what it is, how (whether) it works, who it works on (you or God), and they don’t agree. They’ve been reduced to classifying types of prayer, a simple task that doesn’t answer the big questions. [Alert: jargon coming]. Prayer types include praise, thanksgiving, petition, intercession, vocal, silent, contemplative, written, spontaneous, corporate, private, and on and on.

Even the disciples of Jesus had no clue. They asked him outright, “How should we pray?” He gave two answers, the first of which has locked us into repeating the same rote formula (The Lord’s Prayer) for centuries.

Jesus’ other answer, “Go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father in secret” is a scriptural foundation for centering prayer, also known as Christian meditation. Silent, meditative prayer goes way back to the early monks who lived in the deserts of Egypt. Like other forms of meditation, it has been shown to have profound effects on the brain, especially growth in compassion. You don’t have to say any fancy prayer words to do it. You don’t say anything. You just let go of thoughts and let the divine energy do its work on you.

I have had a personal transformation since practicing centering prayer. I have even enjoyed some “supernatural” experiences because of it. These “consolations” [jargon, sorry] came not during the prayer but after it, during mundane tasks like slicing vegetables in the kitchen.

Note: this blog is from A Doubter’s Devotional 2, chapter 5, available here on Amazon:order here

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