Join us today for the Saturday Night Special with Rich Lewis author of Sitting with God: A Journey to Your True Self Through Centering Prayer...
In this episode Rich Lewis about the power of centering prayer...
In tonight’s Saturday Night Special, I ask Rich Lewis about his book Sitting with God. I ask Rich to share what centering prayer is. I also ask Rich to share the benefits of developing a centering prayer habit.
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SNS 125: Saturday Night Special â€“ Interview with Centering Prayer Expert and author Rich Lewis
[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Welcome to tonight's Saturday night, special episode 125.
[00:00:06] Rich Lewis: I'm rich Lewis. I challenge you to invest in yourself and invest in others. Develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to listen to the voice of God is key.
[00:00:21] And one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this. The inspired stewardship podcast with my friend, Scott Mader.
[00:00:28] When I look at myself and compare myself pre and post that period up until now, I'm just a more confident person in myself. I have more excitement for life. It's not that I didn't want to live then, but I think I have more excitement for life. And that might be because I'm allowing myself to be even more present in the moment and enjoy life.
[00:00:51] Whatever the current moment is.
[00:00:54] Scott Maderer: Welcome and thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcast. If you [00:01:00] truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your. Your talent and your treasures for your true calling in the inspired stewardship podcast, we'll learn to invest in yourself, invest in others and develop your influence so that you can impact the world
[00:01:20] And tonight's Saturday night special. I asked rich Lewis about his book sitting with God. I ask rich to share what centering prayer is. And I also ask rich to talk about the benefits of developing a centering prayer habit. One area that a lot of folks need some help with is around the area of productivity.
[00:01:44] Getting not just more things done, but actually getting the right things done can be really. I've got a course called productivity for your passion. That's designed to help you do this and then to [00:02:00] hold you accountable and walk with you so that you can tailor productivity, not just to be getting more done, but actually getting the right things done.
[00:02:10] What's more, we take the approach of looking at your personality and how you actually look at things in the world and tailor the productivity system to your personnel. Because the truth is a lot of the systems that are out there are written really well for somebody with a particular personality type.
[00:02:28] But if you have a different approach to things, they just don't work, but there's tools and techniques and approaches that you can take that will work for anyone. And we help you do that in productivity for your passion. Check it out firstname.lastname@example.org slash law. Rich Lewis has an Arthur speaker and coach who focuses on centering prayer as a means of inner transformation.
[00:02:54] He teaches centering prayer and both his local and virtual community and offers [00:03:00] one-on-one coaching. Richest newest book is titled sitting with God, a journey to your true self through centering. He publishes a weekly meditation book reviews and interviews on his site. Silence teaches he has published articles for a number of organizations, including contemplate of light Abbey of the arts contemplated outreach, IRD word in search of a new Eden, the ordinary mystics at Patheos and the contemplated.
[00:03:29] Welcome to the show. Rich.
[00:03:32] Rich Lewis: Great. Thanks for having me. I appreciate you inviting me.
[00:03:35] Scott Maderer: Absolutely. And so we were talking a little bit in the intro. I mentioned the book sitting with God. Why did this book come to you? Why did you write a setting with.
[00:03:47] Rich Lewis: Sure. Actually, I was prompted to write it by Amos Smith.
[00:03:51] So I had, I shouldn't say stumble because I think God probably nudged me towards centering prayer. I'd always been attracted to silence. But I just didn't know what [00:04:00] to do in this silence. And I have read books by a gentleman by the name of karma Coleman, and he talked a lot about how transforming silence was.
[00:04:08] So I would just sit in silence and try it, but I didn't know what I was doing. And I came across, I was looking for a book to read on Amazon. And in late 2013, I found a book that looked interesting and I began reading it. It was a book by Amos Smith called healing, the divide, recovering Christianity's mystery.
[00:04:26] And in the book, he talked about a silent prayer practice. He had been doing for about 15 years called center in prayer. So that immediately intrigued me and I began trying it out, reading other books on it, and I reached out to him and we've at this point, we've become friends and we talk about once a month.
[00:04:43] He's I'm on the east coast. He's on. He's on the west coast. So I began working with him off of his website initially. And he is the one that challenged me. He had written a book that book and he was writing his second book, which came out in 2018 and he said, you ought to write a book. [00:05:00] And he challenged me to write a book and I didn't have any clue how to even begin that process.
[00:05:06] So he simply said, jot down some. Single sentence statements of what you think about centering prayer and how it makes you feel and just your immediate gut reaction. So I did that. Came back to him. And then he said, there's the chapters of your book go you think it was that easy? So I picked one of the sentences, wrote one chapter, took a couple of weeks and then sent it back to him.
[00:05:29] And that was my test of that. Does he even think that. That could I have what it takes? Is it readable accessible? Because then I would obviously have to repeat it 10, 11, 12, or 10 times. So to speak with the other sentences, which would be the other chapters. And to my surprise he thought it was interesting, had a neat perspective.
[00:05:48] So at that point, I thought maybe I really can do this. And that was in, so this would have been an early 2014. Just when I began writing the book. So at that point I asked [00:06:00] my wife, what do you think about me writing a book? And she said that I don't have a problem with it. I didn't want to take time away from the family.
[00:06:07] So I disciplined myself to write the book and Saturday mornings real early, I actually got up at about five 30 and drove to the local Starbucks. This is all pre COVID and. Wrote the book actually, or type the book with my laptop, I just would put on a baseball cap, drive to the Starbucks, open the laptop, get a cup of coffee.
[00:06:27] And I wrote from about six to nine or 10 in the morning, and then came back on Saturday and then spent the rest of the day with my family. Take too much time away from the family. So you can, it was Amos's fault, but I'm glad he nudged me, I guess I never would've thought about it. And he just, he obviously wasn't author thought I had an interesting perspective and thought I ought to try writing a book from my standpoint.
[00:06:50] So I'm glad he nudged me to do it. And he mentored me along the way. So that's how the book came about.
[00:06:56] Scott Maderer: And when did you actually
[00:06:58] Rich Lewis: put. It was [00:07:00] published August of last year. So the book itself, the writing process, I guess you could say was from like June, 2014 couple of years, and then a lot of back and forth with editing it.
[00:07:11] And then obviously the steps of finding a publisher that, that took over a year or so to define, to write a book proposal, find a publisher get endorsements and that kind of stuff. So the book itself was published. August of 2020 by autumn Carra books and they published it fairly quickly. And I shouldn't say stumble, that's probably the role I I was on, I landed on a zoom call cause I had been approaching various publishers and I landed on a zoom call.
[00:07:40] And the purpose of this zoom call, I think it was in March of 2020 was just other people like me connecting and helping each other. And I simply threw out a couple of questions about book publishing and I was trying to get a book published and lo and behold. The editor of autumn card books was on the zoom call.
[00:07:57] And we began just [00:08:00] talking after the call then connected again a few times. And then she told me to send the book proposal to her. She came back two weeks later with, we'd like to publish your book. So you never know, you just have to keep moving forward and keep believing your book will be published.
[00:08:17] And so that's how it happened. I stumbled across this person on a zoom call and then. In may they told, I guess she said they wanted to publish the book. And about four, four months later, the book was published by them in August of 2020.
[00:08:33] Scott Maderer: So it part of the reason I wanted to call that out is you started in 2007 and 14 really started before that you just weren't writing yet.
[00:08:43] And the fact that again, Some time, and then also calling out the God moments that came there to create those moments that. Open those doors I, I wouldn't call it stumbling [00:09:00] across those are some times those God moments that
[00:09:03] Rich Lewis: I would say it, God was nudging me in that direction.
[00:09:06] I just was more ready and open to to believe it. So that's why the book I had written, but then really why did I write the book was I wanted to. Centering prayer assessable for everybody. So I, in the book I asked answer what it is and how you do it. And I talk about how it has healed and transformed me.
[00:09:27] And I write it in an easy to read manner. The chapters are short in each chapter. There's a heading and you know what, you're what you're going to read under that heading and the head. And there's. Yup. It's not pages after pages under that heading there's headings, a page or two at the most, and then the next heading, and then questions for reflection and discussion at the end of the chapter.
[00:09:47] So the books meant to be easy, to read, easy to follow for people that are new to centering prayer, but it also will help people that are currently practicing and want to go deeper in their practice. So
[00:09:58] Scott Maderer: let's talk about that a [00:10:00] little bit. What is first for someone that maybe this is the first time they've heard that term centering prayer.
[00:10:05] What is centering prayer? What's the benefits of the practice talk a little bit and unpack a little bit of that before.
[00:10:12] Rich Lewis: Sure. So centering prayer is two things. One it's wordless prayer. So it's meditation, but it's also a relationship with God because during centering prayer, we're opening to the presence of actions of God.
[00:10:24] Within centering prayer itself has been around since the early 1970s, it was actually created by three Trappist monks. So three Catholic priests at that time, they saw. Other meditation practices going on and they wanted something for the Christian community. And one of the priests, William manager, I was reading a book called the cloud of unknowing and he found what's considered the method of centering prayer and how you do it. So now I'll S I'll answer that question for people. So how you do center. So now that center prayer has been around for about 50 years and [00:11:00] how it was created and why it was created. You sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
[00:11:05] And then to begin your silence set, you introduce into your interiorly. What's called a sacred word of one or two syllables could be love ocean God, Jesus, some, something like that. And that signifies your opening to the presence and actions of God within. And then you let go of that word. And then whenever you begin engaging your thoughts and what I mean by that is when you begin thinking about all the things you did before the sets, or you begin thinking about what am I going to do after this set?
[00:11:35] You realize you're not sitting with God or you're sitting with yourself and your thoughts and your planning, you re-introduce that sacred word to come back to the purpose of your set, of opening to the presence and actions of God within let go of your engaged. And then once again, let go of that sacred word.
[00:11:52] So it's not used as a mantra. It's just used to bring you back to the presence and you do that when needed, however long you're [00:12:00] sitting, whether it's five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. And that's really how you do the practice. So it's just letting go and coming back to the present moment.
[00:12:11] Scott Maderer: Yeah. And I've been practicing centering prayer for. Probably about 10 years, 15 years now. Look as well as I had started with meditation and then eventually. Transformed that practice into more of a centering prayer practice. It is something that I'm somewhat familiar with, but I won't claim to be an expert, but continue to work on it.
[00:12:39] So what's different about centering prayer and the other types of prayer that people may be, have heard of or participate in. Whether it's just regular quote unquote, regular prayer, intercessory, prayer, or breath prayers people will talk about. And other kinds of.
[00:12:58] Rich Lewis: I would say the main difference is it's [00:13:00] nonverbal.
[00:13:00] It's wordless prayer, and you're just sitting and being with God. So most people probably think of prayer. As they're talking to God, you're saying something to God, you're complaining to God or asking God for help or asking God to help someone else. So it's and I'm not saying give up those types of prayers.
[00:13:19] It's just another way to pray where you're just learning how to be with God and. And sit with God and connect with God at a deeper level, because really what happens during center and prayers, you're letting go of all your thoughts and emotions and connecting to your true self, which really is the person God wants you to be because you take the Jess.
[00:13:41] The neat thing is you take the gesture of let go with you out into the world from your sits. So you'll learn to let go of things that aren't helping you, including harmful flaws that you tell yourself. And open up to what really is possible and open up to the present moment and be in the present moment.
[00:13:58] So the main [00:14:00] difference with center prayers is it's silent, wordless, prayer. You're not babbling on and talking. And I think if it is a reverse prayer, God is praying in me at this time. What I need and only God knows what that is, and that could be inner peace and calm. It could be wisdom for tasks. It could be confidence.
[00:14:18] It could be nudges to get out of my comfort zone. So it's me just opening up to God and trusting God and getting myself completely out of the way as much as possible.
[00:14:29] Scott Maderer: And again, I think it's important to call out that you're not suggesting that this is the one way we should pray at all, but it is a way that we that we can pray that opens up.
[00:14:41] A different realm of prayer, so to speak. When you said it helps us sometimes let go of those thoughts and things. I think one of the sitting in silence and interrupting those thoughts that come, I think immediately, most [00:15:00] people feel like that's going to be really hard.
[00:15:02] What advice do you have for people that are struggling with those thoughts coming in when they begin this practice, especially if they're new to it what could they do to begin practicing that, that silence and bringing the word in and letting go of.
[00:15:18] Rich Lewis: Sure. The first thing is maybe take baby steps first with the length of time.
[00:15:22] So if I practiced for 20 minutes, but if that seems daunting, start, take baby steps. So start with one to five, up to five minutes and work your way up. First of all. And then the other thing is you don't have to use a word. I started with the word. But I quickly wrote a word is really more. If you're an auditory person, I realized I was more of a visual person.
[00:15:46] So to bring myself back to the presence, I use an interior. And then for some people that are physical people, they can use their breath. And then lastly, some people are wearing the fall asleep, so they keep their eyes open and stare at a [00:16:00] spot, perhaps four or five feet on the floor. So I would say two things, one take baby steps and start slow in terms of the duration and work your way up.
[00:16:11] And then also think about the sacred, I call it method rather than word. What makes sense for you? Pick that method, but keep that in same method during the set you don't want to flip around from word to breath. Otherwise you're spending more time thinking about what's the next method I'm doing.
[00:16:27] And you're really not, no longer sitting with God. You're sitting with your planning again. Take baby steps and maybe pick a method that makes sense for you as well, because one method may not work well for you.
[00:16:40] Scott Maderer: When somebody let's say somebody wants to start this practice and begin down this road.
[00:16:47] What are some of the fruits that come out of the practice of central?
[00:16:52] Rich Lewis: Sure. And you notice them outside of your sit. So we come to our sets really with no expectations because we're letting go of [00:17:00] even our expectations. So we come simply because we love God and we trust God and we want to put God in charge.
[00:17:07] Okay. Get ourselves out of the way outside of the practice, you start noticing differences about yourself. So I would say the fruits of the practice that God graces us with are unique for each practitioner. So if I think about me since I've been practicing, centering prayer, Jumped in the swimming pool of centering prayer.
[00:17:26] I'll call June 1st, 2014. That's when I decided I wanted to try to do it twice a day for 20 minutes, as much as possible. When I look at myself and compare myself pre and post that period up until now, I'm just a more confident person in myself. I have more excitement for life, and it's not that I didn't want to live then, but I think I have more excitement for life and that might be.
[00:17:51] I'm allowing myself to be even more present in the moment and enjoy life. Whatever the current moment is, I get nudges to get out of my [00:18:00] comfort zone and try and do new things. I seem to get wisdom for tasks that elude me, sometimes will pop into my head. No more inner peace and calm. I'm a less reactive person.
[00:18:13] And that's sometimes that's still a work in progress, but I try to listen and not jump right to a solution or reaction. Many people just want you to listen to them. They don't want you to jump in with a reaction. They just want you to be present and listen. So those are some of the things I think. And I think if you ask others and even including yourself, you probably will share similar and different things you've noticed as a result of your long-term practice.
[00:18:39] Scott Maderer: No I would agree fairly similar list actually for me as well. A lot of it is for me, a lot of it is learning to be present and not be interrupted by inner dialogue or inner thoughts, whether that's, while I'm listening to someone else or whether they. Just in the day-to-day [00:19:00] moments of the day as well.
[00:19:01] I think that's a very big one as well. So one of the questions I like to ask all of my guests is my brand is inspired stewardship. I run things through that filter of stewardship. But over the years, I've discovered when I ask people what that word means to them. I get different answers from different people.
[00:19:19] So for you, what is stewardship and what has its impact been on your life?
[00:19:25] Rich Lewis: So for me, I think end of it is using the gifts God has given me and then making sure I share them with the world. And then that'll, that also means helping other peoples realize that they have internal gifts and making sure they share them with the world, because when were, and the gift could be something that you're scared to death to share with the world, but it's still something you should do.
[00:19:47] You cheat the world where they don't get the benefit of the gift you could share because you. Lack the confidence to share to we're afraid to share it or worried about what other people would think. So for me, stewardship is [00:20:00] using the gifts God has given me and sharing them with the world because somebody will benefit from them and making sure other people share their gifts as well.
[00:20:10] So for me, centering prayer clearly has helped me. Do this better. And I think it's one method that can help others as they practice centering prayer, become more confident and live from their true self and begin to share their true self and their true gifts with the world as well.
[00:20:28] Scott Maderer: So let's say this is what everyone jokingly calls.
[00:20:33] The easy question. If I invented a machine where I could grab you from today and just magically transport you a hundred to 150 years in the future, and you were able to look back on your life and the impact and the ripples that your life has had, what's the impact that you hope you've left on the world.
[00:20:52] Rich Lewis: Yeah, I would say similar to what I just answered, really just helping one person at a time to live from their true [00:21:00] self. And for me, that the true self is the person God wants them to be. And if you think about centering prayer helps us connect to that person. We let go of who we are not.
[00:21:10] Which includes all our fear and worries and anxieties and things. We tell ourselves that are not true and open up to what is true and who we should be. And our daily activities we should be taking. So really it would be to help people, one person at a time to live from their true self and then share this true self with the world.
[00:21:33] That will make the world better. And it's just one person at a time, but over even help one person a day or one a week. And I don't even look back at what it is. Sometimes you don't realize how you're helping people, but really it's just to help people live from their true self and then share their true self with the world.
[00:21:49] You make the world a much better place.
[00:21:52] Scott Maderer: So what's coming next for you, as you continue on this journey to living out your call and having that impact. [00:22:00]
[00:22:00] Rich Lewis: Yeah. And as I thought about that, and some of it is things I'll continue to do, and then some are new things that will most likely happen. So I'll continue to go on podcasts like this one.
[00:22:10] And talk about my book and talk about centering prayer, which for many people is just a brand new topic. I'll continue to do guest speaking. I've been getting in front of a lot of church groups or spiritual director groups, or some of the groups are churches, but it's like a bunch of churches in an area.
[00:22:28] A group of ministers and I have spoken to was what's called the Presbytery Rotarians, I think they call it the Presbyteria spoke to with San Diego Presbytery a couple of weeks ago. And it was just a bunch of ministers that I spoke to about the benefits of centering prayer. So I continue to do guest speaking, where I can in front of various groups.
[00:22:49] And I think along the way, I'll continue to look either they'll come to me because I'll see them or I'll find them, I'll look for new ways that I can share centering prayer, whether it's one-on-one [00:23:00] or whether it's in front of various groups. And then I've set a goal of June. Amos has actually, he's a good mentor in a way.
[00:23:08] He said, you need to write a second book. And I said, I know you're right. So he said, what, and when are you going to start writing it? And I said, okay, June 1, 20, 22 is when I will start writing. So I do plan on writing a second book and I have it marked as June one, and I know he'll hold me accountable to it is to begin writing that book.
[00:23:28] And then I think I also just want to collaborate with others to serve and help people and things just naturally will happen. Like I was reached out to. Two months ago and asked if I would contribute a chapter to a book that will be published in February and that naturally happened. And then, and even after my book was published in August of last year, I was reached out to, by two other people and asked if I could write their forwards.
[00:23:51] So things like that happen. The last thing I'll say is I think I use zoom is a great tool and I think it can be used to reach [00:24:00] and serve people in many ways that I haven't even thought of. So these are some things that come to mind as you ask me this question, a lot of a big list, I guess you could say.
[00:24:11] Scott Maderer: That's good. And do you have any idea yet what the book's going to be about? Are you still in the stages of listening to, to see what direction your.
[00:24:20] Rich Lewis: I think it might. I think, I guess true self has to be part of it. My true self being your true self and connecting to it is in the first book.
[00:24:30] But I think when people live from their true self, that's a true gift. So the second book probably will do a lot, have a lot more focus on the true self and living from it. And I might be able to pull in things I've heard and learned. For a lot of the coaching and talking that I've done to help put more valuable information in the books.
[00:24:52] So I true self probably will be a big component of it. Okay. Awesome.
[00:24:56] Scott Maderer: Yeah, no, that sounds that sounds interesting as well. That sounds like [00:25:00] it'll be something that'll that'll help people as well with this area. So anxious to see that one come out. You can find out more about rich Lewis over on his website.
[00:25:11] Silence teaches.com. You can also follow him on LinkedIn or on Twitter as Richard Lewis. One. That's the number one. Of course I'll have links to all of this over in the show notes as well. Rich, is there anything else that you'd like to share with.
[00:25:26] Rich Lewis: No, I would just simply say if you're interested in learning more about centering prayer, pop over to my site at silence, teaches.com.
[00:25:33] I offer a free ebook when you subscribe, subscribe, and then if you want further more information that it's even a, the topic of more interest to you, you can check out my book, which is on my website as well. So I would just point them to my website and encourage them just to try centering prayer and try it for perhaps a month and see if it's a practice that resonates and works for.
[00:25:55] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the inspired stewardship [00:26:00] podcast, as a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this episode. Please do us a favor. Go over to inspired stewardship.com/itunes rate.
[00:26:23] All one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out. Until next time, invest your time, your talent and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.
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When I look at myself pre and post-centering prayer, I'm a more confident person and I have more excitement for life - Rich Lewis
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