Contemplative Prayer Session at St. Margaret's (Dupont Circle)

Do you desire the peace, balance, and deep meaning in life that spiritual transformation promises but haven't found the right set of spiritual practices or community to make it happen?  If so, you are not alone.  Consider joining us for another Contemplative Prayer Session at St. Margaret's Church!

Come to the session prepared to relax and open your heart, mind, and body to God's healing presence.  We usually have 8 to 15 people participate in our spiritual practices group.  The spiritual practices group regularly experiments with new ways to invite the presence of God into our distracted lives.  We've had great experiences walking the Great Labyrinth at the National Cathedral for body prayer/pilgrimage, and we've met at homes for Lectio Divina ("spiritual reading") meditation.  St. Margaret's contemplative prayer sessions provides yet another meaningful way to engage the life of the spirit.

St. Margaret's Church offers a time for Contemplative Prayer twice a month, and we will be visiting their Session as a group.  Usually only a handful of people come, so we should form the majority of the group.  The session starts at 6:30PM, but feel free to come in late to catch the last part of the time if you can't get out of work.  The session usually lasts 30-40 minutes.

Here's how the 30 minute session breaks down:

1. reading of scripture or from a book on prayer by a spiritual guide,

2. 3 chimes,

3. silent prayer for 20 minutes,

4. another reading of scripture,

5. sharing of prayers out loud or silently,

6. sharing any kind of insights that were had,

7. 3 chimes to end

About the location: St. Margaret's Church is about 4 blocks away (and North) from Dupont Circle along Connecticut Ave (click here for their website map).

Afterwards: If folks are interested, we might get some appetizers and a drink at a pub nearby.

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  • Glenn Z.

    Hi all, we've scheduled a visit to St. Margaret's Contemplative Prayer service for Wed, Dec 12th. There was a real interest in doing another so we are planning this follow up visit. People loved the experience. Everyone seemed to be from a different background too. Hope you can join us, especially if you were not able to make our Nov. meetup. Best, Glenn

    November 30, 2012

  • Glenn Z.

    an excellent experience, we'll definitely make this a regular thing

    November 29, 2012

  • Setra

    Just as intended. Like a marathon!

    November 28, 2012

  • Lilian T.

    It was so nice to pray in silence with a group of people.

    November 28, 2012

  • Larry B.

    The beauty of Silence and Solitude is beyond all words and all thoughts.
    It is commuion with God.

    "There is no higher goal attainable on earth than inner communion with this Presence that never leaves us nor forsakes us".......Thunder of Silence

    November 28, 2012

  • Glenn Z.

    about finding us if you are late arriving: Don't worry if you arrive late. We'll have a person at the front door just before 6:30PM just to make sure you know which door of the church to use. But once the Contemplation starts and if you are late, just come in anyway. As you face the altar inside you will see us in the far left hand corner sitting in two rows of chairs. Just slip into a chair unnoticed! No problem!

    November 28, 2012

  • Tim F.

    Hey all -

    Thanks much for the thoughts here, Glenn and Kevin. Really good stuff.

    One thing I would add that is a bit inherent in Kevin's post but worth stating explicitly and is something highlighted in a great book by Thomas Merton called "New Seeds of Contemplation": your mind will wander. You will think of the troubles of the day, what you're excited about, what you might eat for dinner when you're done, the traffic going by outside, the sound of the heater in the church snapping and popping, and so many other big and little things that will meander through your brain.

    It is important to recognize that this is exactly what is expected. It is not a sign of failure or some weakness on your part. It is an aspect of the experience. It is part of the process and the practice. How you respond to this is what is important: to recognize what is happening and to use it as an invitation to center yourself again.

    Looking forward to joining you all tomorrow!


    November 27, 2012

  • Glenn Z.

    Hi Kevin and everyone,
    thanks for your tips Kevin! I was going to type up some things, but you covered everything so I won't go into detail. I did find a 8-minute overview of the contemplative prayer by Father Thomas Keating on You Tube that captured some of the same themes you mentioned. I'll send a link via email to everyone.

    Basically, I would say that the first three times you do this are extremely hard for the average person. Same is true about walking the Labyrinth at the Cathedral in a prayerful way. we are used to "getting the job done" quickly and efficiently. We constantly want to check our Iphone. We are full of thoughts, anxiety, and worry. This 20 minutes of silence will challenge you the first couple of times you do it because you are "unwinding" your tightly wound brain. But it is only after we unwind that we can be open to God's spirit (that's the theory). If you can stick with it, you will be surprised how it becomes easier to do over time! Best, glenn

    November 27, 2012

  • Kevin B.


    What you notice when praying is the moment you start thinking again. You find yourself in the midst of a thought and return to your sacred word. And on and on it goes, for the twenty minutes that you do this prayer.

    My personal experience: Staying in non-thought is challenging. Richard Rohr says there is no formula (as the Contemplative Prayer Group founded by Father Thomas Keating advocates) but the one that works for you. At its center is non-thinking, being present to Being. It is in that presence that God finds you, not you God. Centering Prayer, Bourgealt points out, is not about accessing sublime states of consciousness or having mystical experiences. The fruits of the prayer will be found in daily life: more presence, more flexibility, more able to forgive, ability to be more honest and comfortable with your own being.

    One final "rule". If you use the sacred word, do not change it mid-prayer. I hope this helps and look forward to tomorrow.

    November 27, 2012

  • Kevin B.

    I learned about the prayer through Cynthia Bourgealt's book "Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening". Her short Chapter 3 gives you the essence of the practice. In short form, here are some things from the book: In Centering Prayer everything begins in and keeps coming back to intention. Your aim is "to be totally open to God". Totally available, all the way down to that innermost point of your being. Advocates recommend a "sacred word" that symbolizes you willingness to "do the deal" It can be any word sacred to you. (Jesus, Father, Abba, Kyrie, Grace etc.).

    Begin by sitting comfortably, eyes closes, body relaxed. You can begin with a short prayer of intention, for example "Oh God, I am here; Oh God you are here." Then say your sacred word silently and gently as a symbol of your consent to the presence and action of God during the prayer. When you notice you are no longer being attracted to thinking, let the word go..."

    To be continued...

    November 27, 2012

  • Tim F.

    Thanks for the comment and question, Kevin. It's great to hear a bit about your experience. My own has been quite limited but I am anxious to cultivate it further. I attended the previous contemplative prayer session at St. Margaret's for that reason and to get the lay of the land for our time tomorrow. Instruction is very minimal. Little more than the simple outline that Glenn shared in the description of the event. If you have thoughts to share here in this thread that can help guide folks as they come to the evening, they would be most welcome.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!

    November 27, 2012

  • Kevin B.

    How many of us attending are regular practitioners of contemplative or centering prayer? I began in April of this year upon reading a book by Cynthia Bourgault on the subject. I have since increased my practice to twice per day. Just curious how familiar folks are with the practice. I found after attending a similar session on Capitol Hill earlier this year that there was very little in the way of "instruction".

    November 26, 2012

  • Tim F.

    Really looking forward to this! Thanks for scheduling this, Glenn!

    September 5, 2012

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