What is Prayer?
Prayer is our personal response to God’s presence in our lives. The focus is always on our relationship with God and/or Jesus Christ. 'From the Ignatian perspective, God is always talking to us and prayer is our response to God, letting God speak through us. That means that prayer does not just happen when we go through these entire specific, formal, structured steps – it is spontaneous too! As with all of life, God is spontaneous – so be sure to leave room for that too! God speaks to us continually through:
The world around us
Our own experiences; the events of our lives
Our thoughts and our deepest desires
Develop a More Intentional Prayer Rhythm in your life.
Plan out time for prayer – schedule it and stick to it
Find a quiet place – your room, a chapel or any place where you will not be distracted or disturbed.
Quiet yourself down – relax – set aside all other concerns – be conscious of the life within you, your breathing, your heartbeat.
Be conscious of God’s presence – in you and in the world around you – in the deepest parts of yourself – in the Word that you read, if you are using Scripture.
Speak to God – thank God for this time – ask for what you want and need. Speak as a friend. Tell God what is on your mind.
In the morning
Acknowledge God’s presence with you, and offer yourself to Him for the day. Ask for what you need during the day. Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
In the evening
Acknowledge God’s presence – God who has been with you throughout the day. Look back on the day to see how God has given you what you needed for the day. Express your gratitude to God. Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
Imaginative Prayer (Praying with Scripture)
1. Slowly read and reread the designated passage from Scripture.
2. Once you have become familiar with the text, put the it aside, and begin to imagine the story in detail, using as many of your five senses as you can:
3. The setting: Imagine he scenery, the landscape, the environment: What does everything look like? What kind of day is it?
What does the air, the area, even the people, smell like?
Is there anything you can taste?
What does the air, the ground, clothes, feel like?
Who are the characters? What do they look like? What are they doing?
What has been happening to them in their lives?
Listen to the narrated dialogue.
Pay attention to their tone of voice.
Imagine the thoughts and exchanges of the dialogue.
4. Enter into conversational prayer with Christ or even with others in the scene. Talk as you would with someone physically present, and see what comes out. You could even speak with Jesus, or God about what you notice when doing this.
Prayer of Consideration
Slowly read and reread the designated text prayerfully.
Consider the words, their meaning and what is implied.
Ask Christ to teach you the deep meaning of the passage you are considering.
Allow the text to draw your mind and heart to God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.
Consider the text and your growing understanding of it.
Enter into conversation with the Jesus in light of the text you have considered and how it may influence the way you live a Christian Life.
This conversation may take the form of gratitude, praise, petition or sorrow.
Literally means “divine reading”. It is an ancient form of Christian monastic prayer. Usually focuses on a reading from sacred scripture; one can also “read” nature and one’s life.
Lectio: Read the text slowly, prayerfully, with openness and alert for “God’s Word”. Pay attention to the word or phrase that stands out for you. How does it speak to your life?
Meditatio: Read again and meditate on the text. Continue to pay attention to the word or phrase that captures you. Ask God what message is being revealed to you. Talk to God about what it means for your life.
Contemplatio: Read the text again and center on the image or message that is being spoken to you. Clear your mind of all thoughts and listen to God with your whole heart.
Oratio: Read the text a final time and take the time to let your heart speak to God. What is the deep prayer or desire that comes to you?
The Review of the Prayer
After entering into a formal period of prayer, it can be beneficial for your own insights to review what happened during that time. This means not so much reviewing necessarily what ideas you had, but more the movements of your feelings: the joy, sadness, fear, anxiety, boredom, and so on – and even the distractions, especially if they were deep or even disturbing. Some questions that may help:
• What went on during the period of prayer?
• What stays with you?
• How did you feel about what went on?
• What was your mood; did you notice changes in mood?
This review is a way to help you reflect upon the experience of your formal prayer period. It may help you to notice your interior experiences, and it may enable you to even also be spontaneous during the actual prayer time and to go with the flow of experience. Try not to monitor yourself during prayer, as this would be interfering with the God’s communication. Let happen what is happening during the prayer time; afterwards, look to see what the Lord is saying in all this.