Many of us find that the hardest part of prayer is getting started. Once we’re in the right place, with the time set apart, with our minds clear and focussed— then there’s a good chance we’ll pray. Christian Meditation is excellent preparation for prayer because it trains our minds to focus on God. It is like the runway for a plane at take off.
One of the simplest forms of meditation is an exercise called “Centring Down” or perhaps more accurately, “Re-centring Prayer.” The goal is to re-focus our attention on Jesus Christ, instead of being pre-occupied with ourselves. Re-centring ourselves in this way provides an opportunity to move from feeling frantic and fragmented, to feeling more calm and centred.
Try this exercise at least twice this week:
Find a quiet space which you do not regularly use for other purposes. If you use your office desk or the kitchen table it is likely that your prayer will be invaded by thoughts of the activities you customarily do in these places. Instead, perhaps you will place a comfortable chair in a sunny corner or you’ll find a special spot in your garden.
Adopt a relaxed and comfortable posture with your eyes closed. Feel the ground under the soles of your feet. Become aware of any sensory information coming to you— smells, sounds or the feelings at the ends of your fingers.
Next, mentally hand over to God any concerns or distractions that invade your thoughts. As each one arises, simply entrust it to God and move on. Don’t allow your mind to continue to dwell on it. You may very well return to these matters later in your prayers, but for now, make Jesus Christ your priority.
Move on from your own thought-world to make yourself present to God. He is always present to us. He never leaves us, but it is we who have set our attention on other matters. Now is the time to quietly lead our attention back to God. It is not yet time to address God with a specific prayer— the idea is not to say anything yet. Rather, we are simply recognising that God is present, and we are present with him. We draw near with expectancy and attentiveness.
If your attention wanders, don’t become upset or bothered. Park that thought for now, and simply return your attention to God. Enjoy the reality that God knows your every thought— even before you think it— and that his thoughts toward you outnumber the grains of sand on the beach (Psalm 139:17-18).
Rest in attentiveness to God for a full minute (or more!). Now you are ready to pray.