The Prayer Word
by Basil Pennington
THOSE WHO REGULARLY PRACTICE centering prayer have an excellent tool for handling wrongful thoughts, whether they be actual temptations or just dissipating, useless, or self-deprecating thoughts.
With practice the prayer word [a word you choose that is meaningful to you-- such as love, God, Jesus--and which you use in centering prayer whenever you are distracted from just being with God in silence] gains a great power to bring us to the center to Christ. In the prayer, we have learned whenever thoughts catch hold of us to use the word to return to the center and let the thoughts flow away.
So, through the day, when unwanted thoughts come upon us, instead of fighting them which may well strengthen their presence, we can simply with our own prayer word, go to the center for a moment and let the unwanted thought or feeling, the temptation, float away.
From A Place Apart: Monastic Prayer and Practice for Everyone by M. Basil Pennington (Image Books, a division of Doubleday & Company, Inc., New York, 1985), p. 136.