The Wild Child…


The longer I am in the HeartPaths program, the more I am convinced that they put together their program with a lot of thought and an active response to prior students’ experiences. I think the roots of that sentiment began with today’s topic: Centering prayer. I learned, quickly, that Breath Prayer was really a warm-up for centering prayer!

If trying breath prayer was challenging for me, centering prayer made breath prayer look like a breeze! In centering prayer, you again empty the thoughts in your head and just try to be with the Lord. The difference between it and breath prayer, or the Jesus prayer is that you choose one word (yes, just one word) and use that word to bring yourself back to just a state of being with God whenever your mind begins to wander.

You’re not even supposed to change the word as you pray. In the Jesus prayer it was common for me to change the phrasing I used if I felt like I couldn’t settle myself with the current phrasing. Thus, settling on just one word and sticking to it was really challenging!

At first I was failing miserably at this. My only hope was that one of my leaders told our group that she had a tough time with centering prayer her first year, too. Since she is usually calm, serene, dignified and thoughtful, this really helped me with the chaos of my centering prayers.

I discussed this challenging practice with my spiritual director and she had two things to say on the matter: 1) Maybe centering prayer isn’t “my thing” and 2) Keep practicing it.

The latter was no small matter because we practiced centering prayer in December and the “keep practicing” recommendation came as we were about to take an extensive break from our meetings over Christmas. My daily life was interrupted by seasonal tasks: present-buying, present-wrapping, cooking (Thanksgiving and Christmas are about the only times of the year when I actually enjoy cooking!), grocery-buying, decorating our home (and I take that to the nth degree!), and addressing cards to friends.

Thus, even finding the time to work on centering prayer was not easy. Thankfully, the family decided to do present exchanges this year instead of getting everyone a gift. This made the buying and wrapping process much simpler and less time-consuming. So, on December 23rd these excerpts from my journal were finally written:

“I…chose the word “listen” to begin my prayer time. I decided I need to think of listening in the broadest sense possible–that it is more about receiving information and enlightenment and growth about God. Almost at once I felt as if I was shrinking, getting smaller, in my prayer time, and yet, the smaller I became, the more I sensed I was still significant to God. God was trying to give me a view of how tiny I must look to Him in the great universe…Even so, God chooses to interact with this speck of dust and in doing so, gives me worth and importance.

This was mostly a sensation, not a conscious thought, and yet it spoke volumes to me. It was as if God was trying to let me know He could tell me about Himself without words–I am limiting Him when I only hear Him or sense Him via words.

This prayer time wasn’t without difficulties, though….I had nausea from stupidly taking my multi-vitamin on a fasting day. I asked God to heal me and at first, He did, but then it returned. Instead of asking again for healing…I just tried to “accept” the nausea and ask what it could teach me. I almost immediately was transported to Jesus on the cross and thought that He may have felt very nauseated on the cross Himself to the point of wanting to vomit and yet He probably tried not to…because that would have been counter-productive to winning souls to God’s Kingdom.

Thank you, Lord, for this precious gift today. I’ve gotten what I needed for Christmas and I didn’t even put it on a wish list. Oh…and my nausea dissipated as He revealed this to me.”

After the 23rd my centering prayers slowly became better. Now, it is sometimes my prayer “go to”!  I have even admitted that I’m now getting bored with “thinking prayer.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t still challenging! I just want more of those wild sensations and they are definitely wild.

But wild in the very best sense. It gives a whole new meaning to “the wild child.” 😉

Point to Ponder 1: Choose a word regarding what you really want from God or a word that easily helps you to silence thoughts in your head. Begin to pray, setting a timer for 15 minutes, to allow ample time to work on emptying your head of thoughts (It takes me 15 minutes most days, thus, I choose 20 minutes!). Return to your word when you sense yourself thinking. It helps to sit up straight while doing this (No one seems to know why!). Keep journaling about your experience and praying this way until you feel you are getting the hang of it.

Point to Ponder 2: Getting good at this? Add more time on that timer. Have fun, Wild Child!

Friday’s Post: Maizie is gazing longingly at my keyboard…

You May Also Like: Out of Breath?; Slow Reader Friday: Creating a Life with God;  and Lectio Divina

Share This Post
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 at 10:47 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

leave a comment