How do I get materials for the prisoners in my groups?

Upon request we send materials in English and Spanish, free of any charges, to volunteers and prison chaplains to assist them in responding to prisoners desiring a contemplative prayer practice. In addition, through an association with the Human Kindness Foundation, an organization that has sent religious and spiritual materials to prisoners for over 30 years, and who can deal with the complexities of prison regulations for mailing books to prisoners, we are able to send centering prayer materials directly to prisoners across the country. As of the end of February 2016, nearly 700 prisoners in over 400 prisons, have received Finding God Within, Contemplative Prayer For Prisoners. We have also directly sent roughly 634 books to 74 volunteers going into prisons and jails.  To get more information, write to PCF, P.O. Box 1086, Folsom, CA 95763-1086. You may also contact us at [email protected]

How do I know this type of prayer is for me since I can’t stop my mind from thinking?

This is by far the most common misunderstanding. We can never stop mind from thinking, we can simply not pay attention to it. It’s like watching TV and getting a phone call. Your attention goes to a phone call so that you pay no attention to the TV.

How does Centering Prayer differ from the Buddhist practice of meditation?

There are many similarities between mindfulness meditation and contemplative prayer. In sum, both are receptive types of meditation where the aim is to let go of thoughts.  There are subtle, but important, differences as well. Mindfulness practice can be applied with great success with secular and pragmatic motives (e.g. to lower one’s blood pressure), whereas contemplative prayer, although it may have stress-reduction side effects as well, is more overtly spiritual in orientation. Mindfulness programs do not use explicitly spiritual or Christian terms, whereas Contemplative Prayer is a specific Christian prayer practice, originating with the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the third century, through the Cloud of Unknowing 12th century, up to the writings and teachings of Thomas Merton in the 20th century. It assumes the existence of an Ultimate Reality, a “Presence,” and one that is responsive, and desires a relationship with us.

Does the practice of centering prayer appear in the bible?

See Matthew 6:6 for Jesus’ description of prayer in secret. Centering Prayer is a modern approach.