How to Start Your Own Christian Meditation Prayer Group

meditation group

To start a group, I simply contact a local church with an active social calendar and ask if you can teach a Christ-Centered Meditation course. Let attendees know that donations are welcomed and use the money to purchase additional resources for the group such as books and videos to show.  I have personally used the method of Centering Prayer for 3 years and it has been the best for me. 


The primary purpose is to introduce and sustain your commitment to a practice of Centering Prayer. Our time together includes 20 minutes of Centering Prayer, ongoing education, and sharing of personal experiences and Centering Prayer’s impact on our daily life.  We designed the format of our meeting to allow working people to attend during their lunch hour; therefore we will be very mindful of keeping on schedule.  Everyone is welcome, please invite your friends.

Create an Atmosphere of Silence
I’d strongly suggest that you have participants enter (and remain) in silence until after the prayer, the reading and then until it is their time to “share.”  Then, limit sharing to the day’s topic or their personal prayer time.  Most believers are not familiar with meditation so I’ve had a hard time with people wanting to share too much, or sharing for too long or turning their share into an intercessory period and it “takes away” from the reason we are meeting.  If I had started it silently, it would have been much easier!!

Schedule
12: 00-12:10 – sign-in and enter in silence
12:10-12:35 – opening prayer, scripture reading, guidelines, 20-minute silent meditation, closing prayer
12:35-1pm – daily teaching & fellowship

The Method
1.Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
2.Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol or your consent to God’s presence and action within.
3.When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
4.At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

Meeting Guidelines
1.We accept one another as we are.
2.We do not give advice.
3.We listen attentively and without interruption or criticism.
4.We keep the sharing absolutely confidential.
5.We share only our personal experiences; we are mindful of time and allow each person to speak.
6.We gather to care, not to cure. God does the healing.
7.We are always free to remain silent if we wish.

Group Considerations
1.Arrive on time. If we arrive late, we’ve agreed to sit in the chairs provided near the door and remain silent until the prayer period is over.
2.If we must leave the room during prayer for any reason (such as a coughing spell, to use the restroom, etc.) we are free to do so and we agree to wait until the prayer period is over to rejoin the group.
3.Out of respect for the practice and the group, we have agreed that if we become aware of “sleeping sounds” coming from someone sitting next to us, we will ever-so-gently touch their arm or leg to wake them. We also agree not to take it personally if we are on the receiving end of the “nudge.”

Mailing/Contact List
If you wish to be contacted in the event of a cancellation or news regarding the group meeting, please add your contact info to our group list, which is located near the door.

Donations
An envelope is placed near the door for anyone who wishes to make a donation. The funds collected will be used to cover our costs for renting videos and as contributions in support of our meeting.

The Weekly Support Group
Excerpt from Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating p135-136

While Centering Prayer is done privately most of the time, a weekly sharing of the experience in a small group (up to 15) has proven to be very supportive, as well as a means of continuing education. The weekly meeting also serves as a means of accountability. Just knowing that one’s support group is meeting together each week is an enormous encouragement to keep going, or an invitation to return to the practice of centering prayer if circumstances such as illness, business, family problems, or urgent duties have prevented one from carrying out one’s commitment to daily practice for a time.

By sharing the experience of centering prayer with others, one’s own discernment of the ups and downs of the practice is sharpened. The group serves as a source of encouragement and can normally solve problems that might arise regarding the method. The collective discernment of the group tends to be well balanced.

The purpose of the meeting is spiritual refreshment and mutual encouragement in the practice.

A few select scriptures alluding to silence and silent prayer
1.Lamentations 3:26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
2.Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.
3.Habakkuk 2:20 But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
4.Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
5.Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.
6.Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
7.Psalms 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
8.Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.

Some Signs of Inner Peace
1.An increasing ability to enjoy each moment
2.A decreasing interest in judging oneself and others
3.An ability to let go and let God
4.Frequent, overwhelming periods of gratitude and smiling
5.A tendency to react spontaneously, rather than in reaction to fears based on past experiences
6.A decreasing involvement in conflict & worry
7.A feeling of contentment and oneness with man and nature
8.An increase in the ability to receive and give love
9.An ability to see the good in self and others
10.A taste for silence
11.Healing and reconciliation with oneself and others

Additional Resources & Reading
Father Keating’s organization:  www.centeringprayer.com, Book: Open Mind, Open Heart
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault’s organization:  www.contemplative.org , Book:Centering Prayer & Inner Awakening

We are glad you are with us. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask anyone of us or you may contact one of the leaders by email or phone:
Kim Owens: kimannowens@yahoo.com 912-842-7456 www.ommcenter.com 

Peace. Be Still. (Mark 4:39)

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