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Is Centering Prayer True Prayer?


Is centering prayer true prayer?


Fr. Thomas Dubay, an author and teacher on contemplative prayer, wrote the following response to a question asking if he thought centering prayer is helpful:

The simple answer to your question is no, I do not. Rather, it is more of a hindrance to contemplative prayer. It seems that the promoters of centering prayer have recently been changing their message, due perhaps to criticism. However, I shall respond to what has been generally presented to many people. Centering methods have been much influenced by oriental ideas, and that is the main problem. For the sake of clarity and brevity, I shall make three points.

The first is that one should beware of techniques for emptying the mind to prepare it for contemplation. This is unnatural. Our minds are made to be filled, not emptied. Nowhere does Scripture advise this. Rather, the beginner is told to fill his mind by pondering the word of God day and night (Ps. 1:1-2). This is meditation, not emptying our minds. St. Teresa rightly said that when we are ready, God gives us something better than our efforts can produce, namely, infused communing with himself. . . .

Secondly, it is an illusion to think that techniques can produce an immersion in God. He is not one to be manipulated as one can manipulate a machine or appliance.

And thirdly, emptying methods can frustrate both the beginner who needs input on which to reflect and the advanced person who needs freedom from human efforts to be able to receive the light and love God wishes to communicate (Prayer Primer: Igniting A Fire Within, 155-156).

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