Centering Prayer as a Healing Response to Everyday Stress: A Psychological and Spiritual Process
Eastern forms of meditation have been widely studied for their effectiveness in stress management (Walsh and Shapiro American Psychologist 61:227–239, 2006). Yet few empirical studies have been conducted on the health effects of Judeo-Christian contemplative prayer practices. This study contributes to research in this underdeveloped area by exploring the outcome of a contemporary form of Christian meditation called Centering Prayer (Keating 1986) on everyday stress and on Christians’ approach to communicating with God. The impact of 10 weekly 2-hour group sessions and individual practice of Centering Prayer 2-times daily by 15 Roman Catholic congregants was hypothesized to decrease participants’ stress and increase their collaborative relationship with God (Pargament et al. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 27:90–104, 1988). Pre-post quantitative and qualitative data on Centering Prayer versus comparison groups supported the hypothesis.