If centering prayer is practiced for two twenty-minute sessions a day and if a practitioner takes a week-long centering prayer retreat yearly Thomas Keating and numerous others guarantee results.

The transforming grace of centering prayer has nothing to do with effort and is a grace. Yet, discipline is necessary. We have to show up and sit on our cushion or chair for the prescribed time. That part is up to us. One time Keating said, “You can’t expect to have a chance of winning the lottery unless you buy lottery tickets.” Likewise, God’s transforming grace won’t work its way through us unless we practice.

Yes, a discipline of silent prayer requires tenacity and stamina, but so does any worthwhile endeavor. Discipline comes from the root “disciple.” If we’re going to be twenty-first century disciples there’s no substitute for regular practice. What I describe here is variously named neo-monasticism, new monasticism, or lay monasticism. It is the surprising development among tens of thousands of people across the United States and Europe, who are serious practitioners of silent prayer, but who are not members of a monastery or cloister.