About Us

Centering Prayer is a receptive form of silent prayer. By continually letting go of thoughts and returning to the intention of being with God, we cultivate a deeper relationship with the Divine.

The Origins of Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is deeply rooted in Christian contemplative tradition, especially as taught by the anonymous 14th century English author of The Cloud of Unknowing and by St. John of the Cross.

Centering Prayer is inspired by Jesus’ formula in Matthew 6:6: “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees you in secret will reward you.”

The specific form of Centering Prayer was developed in the mid 1970s and 80s by three Trappist monks. Abbot Thomas Keating asked his monks to find a way to revive the Christian meditative tradition in a way that would take it out of the monastery and make it more widely accessible. In response, Father William Meninger turned to the The Cloud of Unknowing’s advice to return to a single word as a sign of the “naked intent directed to God.” With a third monk, Father Basil Penington, Keating and Meninger began teaching the modernized practice in the 1980s. The practice blossomed. Today, thousands of Catholics and Protestants around the world practice Centering Prayer every day.

Centering Prayer can be used as an 11th step practice in 12 Step programs.

About Contemplative Outreach Northwest

Contemplative Outreach Northwest is one of the original local chapters of Contemplative Outreach Ltd, which formed in 1986 to teach and further develop Centering Prayer and to support its presenters and practitioners.

We offer introductory workshops, retreats, and support for daily practice alone or in groups.