Centering prayer works as follows: Once you have selected your prayer word, you will need to find a place that you can sit comfortably and without distraction for the 20 minutes of prayer time. Once seated comfortably, close your eyes and bring the word to mind, in so doing you are opening yourself up to the presence of the God who is already present and active within you.
Other thoughts or distractions will come to mind. As they do, use the thought of the word to drive away the distractions. Do not get discouraged by the initial inability to focus. Just use the word and focus on that symbol.
Continue this way for 20 minutes (a gentle-sounding timer can assist with this), then with your eyes still closed remain in silence for another minute or two, gently returning from the prayer journey.
As you begin to experience these 20 minute sessions of prayer, the experience itself will sometimes be enlightening, bringing a sense of peace, and sometimes will be frustrating and you may feel you are “not doing it right” or “accomplishing nothing.” Don’t fret. The goal is time spent with God and that goal is accomplished no matter what you may feel you gain from the experience at the time.
Many people come to experience a general feeling of “being centered” or “focused” comes if they set aside time for this type of prayer, even though the prayer time itself does not seem fruitful. But nothing comes from trying to force something to happen. This prayer form is about letting go and letting God. Don’t try to experience peace, or a spiritual breakthrough or anything else. Just use the prayer word to keep your mind otherwise blank as you wordlessly spend time with God.
One note: Centering Prayer is not meditation on the word itself. Do not give in to endlessly contemplating the sound and meaning of the prayer word. Just say the word within yourself. The goal of Centering Prayer as with other forms of contemplative prayer is to spend time with your loving Creator. That is the whole goal.