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Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form Paperback – August 17, 1982


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Frequently Bought Together

Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form + Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer + Open Mind, Open Heart 20th Anniversary Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Image; Reprint edition (August 17, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385181795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385181792
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A book that combines the best of Eastern Christian spiritual exercises with a spirituality for the world of today, Centering Prayer offers practical suggestions for overcoming the problems that discourage people from praying well.

From the Inside Flap

A book that combines the best of Eastern Christian spiritual exercises with a spirituality for the world of today, Centering Prayer offers practical suggestions for overcoming the problems that discourage people from praying well.

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Customer Reviews

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A well written and Clear WORK.
James W. Morgan
This work should be read in conjunction with other works on centering prayer such as Thomas Keating's 'The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel.'
Greg
Pennington makes clear, Centering Prayer is a method of quieting oneself and putting oneself in the presence of God.
J. Cippel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Steven K. Szmutko VINE VOICE on July 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
The concept of centering prayer is one that can be alienating to many people raised in the traditional American tradition. Most of us have been raised to be "doers," "analyzers," "achievers," etc. To many of us in that category, prayer is something to pursue actively whether it be at Mass, communal prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, etc. The author presents centering prayer as something different, perhaps even beyond our traditional understanding of prayer. "Centering Prayer", by M. Basil Pennington, presents a concept well-suited, yet often challenging for our hectic times. The book, written a number of years ago, presents the method of prayer in a new light, combing eastern Christian spiritual exercises with the context of western spirituality, offering practical guidelines for integrating the "way of prayer" into our daily lives.
The author presents the concept of centering prayer in a simple format, clearly outlining and explaining the history, status and principles of this ancient, but recently revitalized tradition. We are reminded continuously that faith is a gift from God; our ability to pray depends upon our willingness to "rest in the Lord." We are called to empty ourselves and allow God to enter our hearts and our souls. Drawing on a number of sources, including Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross as well as the anonymous author of "The Cloud of Unknowing," Father Pennington offers a simple, cogent discussion of the various aspects of prayer.
Even beyond the text, this book is an invitation. It is an invitation to open oneself to God and the gift of grace. It's neatly arranged chapters offer the reader the opportunity to reflect upon the nature of prayer and reference it frequently as needed. As one progresses in the way of centering prayer, this book is a simple, yet invaluable resource.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Nick Martin on March 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have no doubt that Basil Pennington is a very loving and well-meaning man,and an expert on his subject. But he is also very maddening.If you want to know about the background to centering prayer then probably this is as good an introduction to that aspect of the subject as any. But if , like me, you actually want to know how to do centering prayer, then don't bother with this book. It tells you just about everything you could wish to know about the history, benifits, and application of centering prayer (it even tells you how to structure centering prayer retreats and seminars). But unbelievably, within its 254 pages Pennington devotes little more than one page on how to actually do it, and what he does say is vague and interspersed with latin phrases. I have the impression that Pennington has written something more explicit somewhere, but this book is definitely not it.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis Beckman on May 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is with great joy that I accompany the author into the communion of those saints who have mentored both of us; Thomas Merton, to whom he attributes the term, "Centering", Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Thomas Keating, Edward Hays, the unnamed author of the ancient classic, "The Cloud of Unknowing", among others. His broad acquaintance with spiritual persons sharing the blessing of praying interiorly introduces many others as well. Having recently purchased the hard cover 1980 edition I'm reminded that, had I read it in its entirety 20 years ago, I would have been fascinated, but unable to grasp the metaphoric descriptions of this indescribable form of prayer. A couple of years ago, after years of trying to "make contemplation work", I settled into the prayer phrase, "Gracious Lord, I surrender to your care." I cannot pinpoint the hour during which God's hug enveloped me to allow the holy privilege of slipping silently into Center, but I recognize that it was entirely the work of God, and not of my dogged determination. Because of the many workshops Pennington has conducted, the last section of the book in response to questions raised both by puzzled and skeptical participants echoed many of my own. Perhaps the question section is the place to begin, because the longings expressed therein may remind all of us of our beginnings. I sense those spiritual mothers and fathers smiling as I realize that intense longing is a Grace, a Gift, and as I discovered, a Promise as well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Cippel on November 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I recently discovered Centering Prayer through this book, and I could not have asked for a better introduction to the subject. In Fr. Pennington, I found what I wish for in the ideal priest: knowledge and expertise tempered by compassion and humility.

I wish to respond to some negative comments made by other reviewers. One has written that the book contains about one page of instruction on Centering Prayer and 200+ pages of history and theology. This is not quite true, as Fr. Pennington focuses a great deal on the mundane, practical elements of Centering Prayer. While he does make extensive reference to historical writings, I think that is for the best. The technique of Centering Prayer is extremely simple, yet it can be difficult to understand why one should do it and how one should integrate the fruits of Centering Prayer in to the rest of one's life. The thoughts of centuries of Christians who have practiced it or something like it are insightful in this regard.

Another reviewer suggests that it is rooted not in Catholicism but in Eastern spiritual practices. Fr. Pennington specifically refutes this view and emphasizes that Centering Prayer has Christian roots. Indeed, he commends Centering Prayer to the many Catholics and other Christians who have found techniques such as Transcendental Meditation lacking and want a spiritual practice of their own religious tradition. While he obviously admires people of all religious persuasions, his sources are the Bible, saints of the Catholic Church, and other Christian writers.

Before picking up this or any other book on Centering Prayer, please note the following: Centering Prayer is not a means of instantly assuring oneself an extraordinary experience of God. As Fr.
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