Boats on the River of Consciousness 09-29-2016

One way to think about centering prayer is to visualize all incoming thoughts as boats coming down a river. Some boats (distracting thoughts) are exciting and alluring. Others are mundane. Yet we get carried away by each and every boat coming downstream. The point of silent prayer is to get less and less caught up in the various boats coming along the stream of consciousness. As we get less caught up with the boats, the boats become less frequent with more space between them. Then eventually we enjoy complete quiet with no boats, just the calm energized water, which carries every boat.

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With fewer and fewer thoughts we’re able to rest in pure being: God in whom “we live and breathe and have our being” (Acts 17:28a). This practice is a fulfillment of Jesus’ first commandment: “Love the Sovereign your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37, Deuteronomy 6: 4-5).

How can we love God with our entire mind when we’re distracted? First we need to still our minds. Then we can experience what God wants to impart. Deep communion with God requires our full undistracted attention. Perhaps Saint Maximus puts it best: “He who truly loves God prays entirely without distraction, and he who prays entirely without distraction loves God truly. But he whose intellect is fixed on any worldly thing does not pray without distraction, and consequently he does not love God.”[1]

[1] Palmer, et al, The Philokalia Vol. 2, 65.


David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings.  Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program  created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners, and then guides us experientially through core prayers and meditations.

How do we know that Jesus was actually raised from the dead in bodily form? This course with Prof. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, examines the extraordinary claim that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead in a bodily fashion to appear in person to people after his cruel death, crucifixion, and entombment.

Check out Simply Good News by New Testament scholar and author N. T. Wright.  It is based upon his book Simply Good News.  You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament.  It works well for group studies.   

Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus.  Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. Enjoy an article Rich wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.

Check out Rich’s review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain.