St. Joseph was a prayerful person and a quiet one, having not one of his words recorded in Scripture. Often when we think of prayer it is about speaking many words and repetition as in the Rosary. Today we introduce another form of prayer that uses only one word or a small phrase. Instead of engaging the imagination it strives to free the mind, disengage the feeling and rest the senses.

Ignatian spirituality calls this Meditation. Centering Prayer as the term was coined by Rev. Thomas Keating OCSO, reveals its meaning in the name – it strives to “center” us in an inner stillness. Breathing deeply while repeating a word clears the mind. A focus on breathing and the Mantra like repetition of the one word relaxes.

When we prayerfully engage in this form of prayer, we may feel that we are not doing enough. St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) gives a lovely image to explain God’s delight in our prayer. She uses the image of a parent who loves the child when the child is speaking and playing. The child is equally loved when the little one is resting and even when the child sleeps. God feels the same way about our prayer – our intention to pray is God’s delight.

Centering Prayer Technique

One lyric from our St. Joseph Hymn says that St. Joseph, ‘whispered Jesus’ name.’ Through the intercession of St. Joseph, we will engage in Centering Prayer asking our Saint to give us a quiet spirit.

Sit or lie down comfortably. Breathe deeply. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe deeply for a few moments. Ask the Lord to fill you with peace with every breath Inhale and exhale any anxiety or stress. Continue to breathe.

Gently begin whispering the name…J…E…S…U…S… Repeat and breath. Feel your body relax, your mind goes blank… Thoughts may pass through your mind – focus on your breathing and repeating the name of Jesus.

This practice takes some practice. Even a few moments are a worthwhile exercise, and you can build up the time a little each day. Work through the discomfort at first. At the very least you will be giving God some time and know that God smiles on your gift of prayer.