In the 1990s several church members and friends began gathering weekly to pray in silence. To this day, each Friday morning this group quietly comes together, welcomes one another and the week’s guide lights a candle and rings a gong or brass bowl to mark the beginning of silent prayer. Members then sit with one another for 20-30 minutes until the ringing of the gong again to signify closing of the prayer time.
This practice, called Centering Prayer, is a method of silent, contemplative prayer that is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. This ancient meditative Christian prayer practice focuses on the process of opening one’s heart and mind to the God we know by faith is within us and resting in Him. There’s no wrong way to participate; it’s really about an individual’s consent to God’s presence and action within.
Chris Mason, a member of the Andrew Chapel community, has practiced Centering Prayer for close to twelve years and speaks with utmost reverence about her experience. Chris describes Centering Prayer as a journey and calls herself a novice with a long way to go in the practice. She says one of the greatest challenges is to, “Try to relax and get out of your own way.” The caring, supportive community that meets weekly gently nurtures the process.
This group, connected with Contemplative Outreach of Northern Virginia, met in-person at Andrew Chapel until moving online due to pandemic restrictions. They’ve grown as a result of their online presence and are currently continuing meetings on Zoom. Centering Prayer is now exploring options to resume offering in-person prayer opportunities in addition to Zoom in the near future. Those interested in connecting with this group on Friday mornings at Andrew Chapel can check our website for updates.
If you are interested in exploring Centering Prayer further, visit the Contemplative Outreach Website or contact John-Richard Pagan at CONOVA99@gmail.com. He can link you to any of the various groups in the Northern Virginia area including on Zoom and other resources for learning about Centering Prayer. In addition to weekly prayer groups, Contemplative Outreach of Northern Virginia also offers a “2nd Saturday Morning” program once a month (also via Zoom).