Book Review: Centering Prayers
Author: Peter Traben Haas
Publisher: Paraclete Press ISBN: 9781612614151
I have been using this daily companion prayer guide in my personal devotions since the beginning of this year. Now, after almost eight-weeks of regular use, I feel qualified to provide an honest review. I will begin by saying that I have enjoyed these preludes or welcoming prayers that lead my spirit into a place of union and fellowship with God and I’m sure my delight in these prayers will continue as I enjoy the devotions through the coming year.
I think a good place to begin my review is with the introduction. Centering or meditative prayer is different from what many persons in my tradition understand prayer to be. My background is Protestant Evangelical and centering prayer is outside of the practice of what many people in my church family experience on a regular basis. Historically, it has been my experience; prayers of petition, supplication, and praise are the normal for most Evangelicals. Therefore, a bit of explanation and qualification is helpful in distinguishing what is different about this style of prayer. Peter Traben Haas provides us a very good disclaimer in his introduction, About the Prayers, he writes:
“The brevity of most of the prayers is an intentional effort in service of the contemplative prayer practice. Although almost all of the prayers use thee first-person singular “I” instead of the more universal first-person “we,” I recognize that our prayers are always in some way interconnected with the human family, across all times and places. Our communion of prayer is not limited by generations or locations. Prayer integrates time and eternity, earth and heave, and transcends any one person’s silent devotion and evocations of pain, ecstasy, or earnest plea. Thus, while this simple book of prayers will most likely be used by individuals devotionally, at no point are we ever really alone in this sighing of spirit to Spirit. We are praying as well as being prayed, as a continuing loving universal body becoming love.” (p. xv)
Centering prayer is a place of union, intimacy, and holy communion with the Godhead…a place of few, if any, words. This little book of prelude and/or postlude prayers by Peter Traben Haas is a helpful guide leading the pray-er into the mystery of holy intimacy.
While these prayers, as the author reminds us in his introduction, might be more often used for individual devotions, I have found as much joy and prayerful community using them on occasion with one of my discipleship and prayer groups (3-4 men).
Centering Prayers is a wonderful resource and I feel I’m only just beginning to plumb the depths of the gift that it truly is. I hope others, familiar with the practice of centering prayer as well as those new to the practice, will be equally blessed.