Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

(John 20.21-23)

It’s not about God just lifting us up and forcing his Spirit into us or onto us. We have to receive the gift, inhale the breath of the Maker. Whether Pentecost is about the wind and fire Spirit of Acts, the pneumatic breathing of the risen Christ in John,or both, the prelude to divine outpouring is prayer. The disciples are in their secret room. The doors are locked.


Some of you have asked questions about the centering prayer I showed you last week so I am going to write the main principles here. I hope it will help you practice.


It is suggested we practice for two periods of twenty to thirty minutes a day.  The primary benefit of centering prayer is not realized in the practice itself, though amazing peace and sense of divine indwelling may well be felt, strongly, blissfully. For some, there may be no such sensual experience but it doesn’t matter. It is in our daily lives that the effects of the practice really work on us and transform us. What is important is not our skill in prayerfulness but our intention to give our hearts and minds totally to God during the practice.


When Jesus was asked by his disciples to teach them to pray, he told them, “…when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you”

(Matthew 6.6). Centering prayer is rooted in this instruction.


  1. “go to your inner room”

Literally, take yourself    away from the noise of the world. Find physical space where you are not going to be disturbed. Sit comfortably, back straight, feet firmly on the ground. 

  1. “Close the door”

Still the noise of the mind. Pray for a sacred word which expresses your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within you – eg God, Jesus, Father, Abba, Mother, Mary, Amen or perhaps Love, Peace, Listen, Mercy, Let go, Silence, Stillness, Faith, Trust


After some moments focusing on the breath, introduce the sacred word gently, like placing a feather on the soft grass. Keep returning gently as thoughts arise – don’t struggle, your inner dialogue is not your enemy; you simply want it to quieten and be still.

Thoughts, itches etc are natural as emotional knots unravel – just gently return to the centre of being by using your sacred word.


  1. “your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you”


Simply trust that God, who sees your secret true self, loves you completely and will speak within you. Give in to God. Centering prayer is not about technique; it’s all about intention. If your intention is to center your being in the Spirit of God, then initial difficulties will fade away, leaving you free to stand in the holy wind, the breath of God.

Centering Prayer … is free and has nothing to attain, to get, or desire …
no thinking, no reflection, no desire, no words, no thing … just receptivity and consent…
” (Thomas Keating)


~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on June 7, 2014.

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