Finding God Within
Contemplative Prayer For Prisoners 

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Most people understand prayer to be asking God for various favors. Centering  Prayer is an entirely different approach to God.  It is a silent, wordless prayer. It focuses on learning to ‘listen’ to the Silence of God, letting go of past images of God, and getting beyond the negative judgments about our relationship with God. It is a direct and intimate route to the Divine, and a turbo-charged path to personal transformation.

 

FINDING GOD WITHIN by RAY LEONARDINI

Reviewed by: Paul Deitering, Folsom Prison

            Finding God Within is a tremendous act of generosity. Life in prison can be full of suffering. This book is an offer that when accepted equips us with a spiritual tool for deep personal transformation. The spiritual tool is Centering Prayer, and it teaches us a direct connection with God, without any strings attached, no matter what. This prayer method is totally our own, and we can use in anywhere, at any time, in a group or alone. It is the only spiritual practice that I have found that directly addresses the deep suffering of prisoners.

It works like this: our thoughts are a constant commentary on the negative people and place we live in. Centering Prayer teaches us to take a rest from those thoughts. It teaches a simple method to get out from under the domination of negative thoughts,  feelings, and experiences. In the resulting silence we become aware of God’s presence in our life. This awareness changes our perception of God, and it changes our perceptions of ourselves at the same time.

As a result, the idea of an impersonal and judgmental God no longer fits with our experience of love and acceptance in our prayer time. Profound personal change follows as this new perspective affords us space to independently examine our thoughts, feelings, past traumas, and suffering, rather than be controlled by them.

Centering prayer is not exclusively for the pious or the holy. Once a week we sit as a group to do Centering Prayer. Right in front of our eyes we see the changes happen for those we live with. New relationships are formed in this prayer group that is multi-racial, and multi-denominational. It is a remarkable sight. For prisoners like myself, Centering Prayer is a treasure of enormous value than can never be taken away.

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