Thomas Keating is a Cistercian priest, monk, and abbot. He is the founder of the Centering Prayer Movement and of Contemplative Outreach. In this paperback, he presents an overview of contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition. He defines it as "the way of pure faith."
Contemplation is not a relaxation exercise, a charismatic gift, or parapsychological phenomena. According to Keating, faith is opening and surrendering to God the One who is already with us and in us. Patience is an important ingredient of contemplative prayer: "In the New Testament patience means waiting for God for any length of time, not going away, and not giving in to boredom or discouragement " In opening ourselves to God, we use a sacred word (Jesus, Spirit, Abba, amen, peace, silence, open, glory, love, presence, trust, etc.) to signal our intent and to let go of all thought. The aim is to experience interior silence or "resting in God."
Keating notes: "Don't judge centering prayer on the basis of how many thoughts come or how much peace you enjoy. The only way to judge this prayer is by its long-range fruits: whether in daily life you enjoy greater peace, humility and charity. Having come to deep interior silence, you begin to relate to others beyond superficial aspects of social status, race, nationality, religion, and personal characteristics." In the final chapter, the author spells out some guidelines for Christian life, growth, and transformation as a conceptual background for centering prayer.