The Active Prayer

Father Thomas Keating

The active prayer - an aspiration drawn from scripture for use in daily life - should be longer [than the prayer word used for Centering Prayer]-five to nine syllables. The saying of the syllables is synchronized with one's heartbeat. While some people like to use a variety of aspirations for this purpose, it is easier to work a single aspiration into the subconscious. The great advantage of this practice is that it eventually becomes a "tape" similar to the "tapes" that accompany one's upsetting emotions. When this occurs, the aspiration has the remarkable effect of erasing the old tapes, thus providing a neutral zone in which common sense or the Spirit of God can suggest what should be done.

The active prayer has to be repeated again and again at free moments in order to work it into the subconscious. The old tapes were built up through repeated acts. A new tape can be established in the same way. It may take a year to establish one's active prayer in the subconscious. It will then arise spontaneously. One may wake up saying it or it may accompany one's dreams.

Go about this practice without anxiety, haste, or excessive effort. Do not blame yourself for forgetting to say it on some days; just start up again. It should be repeated when your mind is occupied with other things such as conversation, study, or work requiring concentration.
Following are examples of the active prayer:
O Lord, come to my assistance.                    God, make haste to help me.
Holy Mary, Mother of God. Abide in my love.
My God and My All. My Jesus, mercy.
Kyrie Eleison. Veni Sancti Spiritus.
Gloria in excelsis Deo. Agnus Dei,  dona nobis pacem.
I belong to you, O Lord. Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Take, Lord, and receive all I have.   Bless the Lord, my soul.
Open my heart to your love. Lord, I give myself to you.
My Lord and my God. Body of Christ, save me.
Lord increase my faith. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.
Not my will but thine be done. May my being praise you, Lord.
Jesus, my light and my love. Jesus, my light and my love.
Through Him, with Him, in Him. Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.
Our help is in the name of the Lord. Lord, do with me what You will.
Holy Spirit, pray in me.  
Abbot Thomas Keating,  Open Mind, Open Heart