Video series: Prayer of Silence: Using a Sacred Word to Recenter

By Kathy Keary

Our full series in the Contemplative Prayer Video Series is here.

Our full series on Contemplation is here. 

Today we will continue our series on silent prayer using a sacred word to recenter ourselves when distractions occur. But first, let’s take a moment to reflect on the One with whom we are longing to be in communion. Allow God’s words to descend from your mind to your heart.

  • “I have called you by name. You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
  • “I knit you in your mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).
  • “I have counted every hair on your head” (Luke 12:7).

This is just a sampling of precious sentiments found in Scripture that speaks of God’s love for us – a God who placed in our hearts a desire to be in communion with the Divine, a God who kissed our souls before placing them in our bodies. In the words of Thomas Keating, a Cistercian priest and co-founder of the Centering Prayer Movement:

The desire to go to God, to open to the Divine presence within us, does not come from our initiative. We do not have to go anywhere to find God because God is already drawing us in every conceivable way into union. It is rather a question of opening to an action that is already happening in us.

In the prayer of silence, we give our “yes” to the God who is luring us into an intimate encounter and invites us to “lie down in green pastures,” “leads us beside still waters,” and “restores our souls” (Psalm 23).

When we are resting in the silence, it is helpful to have a sacred word that we can turn to when we become attached to a distraction. It’s recommended that the word be one or two syllables. Allow the Spirit to guide you in your choice of that special word that will draw you back into the precious moment of silent communion with the Divine. For years, I have used the word, Jesus. Other possibilities are peace, within, rest, stillness, silence, God, and Spirit. The possibilities are endless. Pick what speaks to your heart.

Begin your time of silent prayer by saying to yourself your sacred word as a statement of your intent to commune with God. Turn your attention briefly to the sacred word when you become attached to a thought. Allow the sacred word to bring you back into the present moment where you are simply resting in silence and stillness.


Next week we will use an image to draw us back to resting in silence.

The first Thursday of each month, Fr. Ron Will leads a Taize prayer service accompanied by musicians. The contemplative service includes chants, readings, and periods of silence. It is offered at the Renewal Center in person or on-line.

This week try carving into your day moments for silent prayer.

Until next week, may you feel the loving embrace of our God.

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[Kathy Keary, spiritual director, holds a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in theological studies, and completed Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the Divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the Divine within. She enjoys accompanying others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]

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