Contemplative Prayer Group

The Contemplative prayer group meets once a week on Thursday evenings at 5:30 to experience deep stillness and silent prayer. We explore contemplative and mystical aspects of several Christian traditions, including Audio Divina, Centering Prayer, Chant, Jesus Prayer, Labyrinth Walk, Lectio Divina, Guided Meditation, Audio, and Videos

On the first Thursday of the month, we go to dinner together.

Enter the church by going through the metal fence gate near the garden entry to the church. Go down the ramp on the street side. We meet in the last classroom on the lower level - all the way around to the end of the building. The door will be open, and the candles lit. Please join us.

Contemplative prayer has been called “divine therapy.” Some say it’s integral to Christian maturity.

For more information contact Laurie Parrish, Ed Sugar, or Ron Weitnauer.

Be still ... and know that I am God.

And this, from Kate Brigham, who writes on various missions of the St. Paul's parish community:

As we journey through this season of Lent and prepare for the Mystery of Easter, consider the Contemplative Prayer Group as another instrument to a new way of not just “prayer” but life. The Contemplative prayer group meets once a week on Thursday evenings at 5:30 to experience deep stillness and silent prayer. They explore contemplative and mystical aspects of several Christian traditions that include Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina in a warm and friendly gathering. Their numbers are growing and our group is a form of Outreach as several members attend from outside St. Paul's congregation.

Contemplative Prayer is…"the opening of mind and heart, our whole being, to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words and emotions.” To read more about what the Episcopal Church says about Contemplative Prayer, visit this link.

Whenever I hear about Contemplative Prayer, it always sounds so spiritual and mysterious and I wondered what it was like. One of the ways to find out, is to simply go to one of the meetings and participate. This is precisely what I did.

"Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship." -Contemplative Outreach

This group meets in room B22, which is in the basement level and has an additional access door from the outside on the north end of the property. The darkened room was lit with candles and had a serene atmosphere. Each week the group follows a specific structure to their Centering Prayer.

  1. First, a focal topic is shared which varies weekly. This particular evening, I listened to a short description of Terry Waite, an English Humanitarian, and how he survived 5 years of solitary confinement under Hezbolla with the practice of Contemplative Prayer.
  2. Then, we listened to some beautiful calming music, followed by a reading from the Scriptures. These beginning exercises each helped me connect and focus in different ways; visual imagery, auditory, sensory, and cognitive word language.
  3. Then began the first of two silent prayer sessions. The group became so still and quiet. At first, too many thoughts flooded my mind. “Don’t swallow, it will be too loud.” “What do I need to get at the grocery store again?”, “Is that guy falling asleep?” and “Twenty minutes?”. Eventually, I focused my attention properly. I chose: “Be still and know that I am God.” I thought these words slowly, consciously and repeatedly. My mind was beginning to still. Then it became repeated words of, “Be still and know that I am”. Next, it became, “Be still and know”. After some period of time it evolved into, “Be still”. Lastly, it was just “Be”…I felt so connected and calm and then the soft chime went off signaling the end of the first centering prayer. I thought to myself, “Was that really twenty minutes? It felt like everything stood still.”
  4. We all stood up and slowly and mindfully walked in a circular pattern around the chairs and sat back down again.
  5. Another scripture was read and was followed by a second twenty minute Centering Prayer. This time I wanted to pray for two friends. I used the scriptural text along with the names of my friends. Using this method to pray for those I care about was a new experience. It was deeply calming and I felt a peaceful presence encompassing me by the end of the 20 minutes.
  6. At the end of the meeting, as is done at every meeting, the group recited the Lord’s Prayer together in closing.

When we finished, I had the chance to speak to the others. Ron Weitnauer, who takes turns leading the meeting, said, “Contemplative Prayer is a fundamental Christian practice and the key to Christian maturity.“ 

There are approximately 30 total participants with about 15 at any given meeting. Only about 1/3 of the group members are from St. Paul’s. Laurie Parrish, who has been leading this group since 2008 says, “being quiet before God, listening/waiting/opening to God's presence is an integral key to Christian maturity and a whole life.”

Jesuit Father William Johnston who has written much about Contemplative Prayer said:  "Properly understood, contemplation shakes the universe, topples the powers of evil, builds a great society, and opens the doors that lead to eternal life".

In this week’s newsletter, I share my own experience, but each person will have their own unique way of exploring and experiencing this form of communing with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If you have an interest in participating in the Contemplative Prayer Group or have any questions about it, contact Laurie Parrish