My Favorite Centering Prayer
The news these days toggles between terrorists who want to behead people and an epidemic disease that threatens to sip out massive populations. In addition we all have the anxieties that are attached to our own daily lives. As Christ followers we know that we are to “cast all our anxieties upon Him”, but how do we do that? One practice I learned during my first year of seminary has stuck with me. In anxious times I practice “centering” or “breathing” prayers.
Centering prayers are used to focus our minds away from our anxieties and onto Christ. It’s a way of reprogramming the mind from focusing on circular and obsessives thoughts that feed our anxieties. The first one I learned was the Jesus prayer which goes like this: When you inhale you say “Lord Jesus Christ” as you exhale you say “Have mercy on me a sinner.” I say this over and over sometimes during the day or often while laying in bed and I pray this until I fall asleep.
I have found that this is one of the rare times that God and Satan work together. As I prayer those prayers on my bed the Lord helps me rest because “He gives his beloved sleep.” The enemy also lays off with the destructive thoughts because he doesn’t want me to pray.
The only thing I don’t like about the Jesus prayer is that sometimes it over reminds me of how unworthy I am. I usually do a pretty good job of that myself without being reminded of it over and over. I learned another prayer, however, that is much more positive and I pray this one often as well. A spiritual director taught it to me and it goes like this: As you inhale whisper “The Lord is my Shepher” As you exhale pray “I have everything I need.” As I pray this over and over it reminds me that my destiny is in the hands of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for his sheep.
I go back and forth between these two prayers depending on which one I need more. I have found this very helpful for lowering anxiety and hope you will find it helpful as well.