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How to Lead a Group Centering Prayer Session


Believe it or not practicing centering prayer with groups may be even easier than doing it solo.


In a group environment, you have the support of the collective. Sitting in silence with God as a community seems to create a positive and supportive vibe.


My first 20 minute session was in a group context. Knowing that my brothers and sisters sitting around me were practicing gave me the added energy and commitment to stay with the sit. I might have given up at the time if I had been alone. Also my longest straight time in centering prayer (2 sessions of 50 minutes each in the same day) occurred in a group setting.


Tips on How to Lead the Session

(1) If meeting in person, simply be mindful of the environment. It needs to be a quiet space. Carefully locate and do recon. Sometimes a space that “seems” quiet isn’t actually quite when you are sitting in silence. Pay attention to any random or distracting sounds.


(2) Zoom is one way that allows a group gathering. I find online groups as powerful as in person groups. After all, our eyes are closed anyway. Make sure everyone mutes. Video on/off is left to personal preference.


(3) Give some basic instructions to those present about how to use a prayer word and teach the 4 R’s: Resist no thought, retain no thought, react to no thought, gently return to Jesus. See my Centering Prayer Playlist for specific teachings on aspects of centering prayer


(4) I typically frame the group session with an introductory prayer or Bible verse.

I like to use one of the following:


(a) Jesus prayer: “Lord, Jesus Christ son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”


(b) Macrina Wiederkehr: "O God, help me believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is"


(c)My friend Rich Lewis uses a liturgy based on Psalm 46:10:


Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know

Be still

Be


(5) Use a chime or some soft sound to signal the entry into silence and its conclusion. You can search for chimes for cell phones if you don't have a physical one. I uses this https://amzn.to/3TIpZ19


(6) I invite people to keep their eyes closed after the concluding chime, take a few breaths to return to the room and then lead the group in the Lord’s Prayer.


(7) After the sit, allow the group the opportunity to ask questions and/or share testimonies. The goal here isn't to evaluate the session. It is critical to remind practitioners that there is no good or bad session. The goal from our end is to sit in silence with the God who loves us and consent to God's eternal presence through surrender of thoughts.


If you'd like to receive a monthly centering prayer update including invitations to free virtual centering prayer gatherings, sign up: www.centeringprayerbook.com


If you have other questions about centering prayer, I am happy to answer them. Send me a message through the site or via email: brian@brianrussellphd.com




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