Tag Archives: Ignatian prayer

Can I Pray This Way?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 23, 2019

do not be afraid, print

Can I Pray This Way?

What a question! As I consider praying in the Ignatian way, I remember the times I vividly experienced this way of prayer. Contemplative, imaginative, experiential prayer. But—will it work for me, this time?

I must admit up front: I am afraid. I am afraid that nothing will happen, this time. I am afraid of not paying sufficient attention to this type of prayer. I am afraid of being far from God. I am afraid my mind is so cluttered and full of chatter that I will not be able to focus. And, I am afraid that my heart is not right with God. This time.

Father Timothy mentions a woman who has similar fears and anxieties over praying in the Ignatian way, too. She follows those fears with: “When I reflect on the meaning of the Scripture, I have the sense that something will surface….there will be some little hold that allows me to enter the surface of the text and go in.” [1] I appreciate this woman’s witness to her experience.

Yes, I can pray. I do pray, in a conversational manner. I honestly enjoy talking with God! Except—it goes in cycles. I need to take this woman’s advice. She recommends patience and trust. I need to patiently try, try, and try again to work on Ignatian prayer.

Perhaps I ought to take the suggestions right here. One woman mentions a simple thing for her to imagine is the weather. [2] I realize the Bible does not go into depth, in terms of description. However, using Godly imagination with what I know of the weather in the area of Palestine is definitely a place to start.

Also, using as many senses as I can is a good suggestion. What can I hear from this passage? What do I see? Are there any smells? Can I taste anything? These are all places for me to start to begin Ignatian contemplation. Even if I am afraid of having my prayer stall out.

Dear Lord, thank You for providing different ways to approach You. You want above all to be in communication with Your children. It doesn’t matter how we do it, just that we do it regularly. Help me to come to You with Ignatian prayer and contemplation, even though I am afraid. Amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 41.

[2] Ibid.

Spiritual Imagination and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 18, 2019

Jesus and Coptic-Children-01

Spiritual Imagination and Prayer

As I go through this book, I repeatedly find Ignatian prayer can be freeing, liberating, and exciting. Yes, I have read through books on Ignatian prayer before. (Including the Spiritual Exercises, the book that started it all.) Yet, I cannot get it cemented in my head that Ignatian prayer is truly a marvelous way to communicate with God. I still have difficulty practicing regular, daily prayer.

Father Timothy gives further examples of substantive Ignatian prayer. First, R. used the instance in the Gospel of Luke where Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus come by. R. saw himself as Zacchaeus, up a tree, and Jesus encountered him. The warmth, the intimacy, the desire of simply being with Jesus—all became a marvelous experience of imaginative prayer. [1]

Second, A. had a retreat where she intentionally set aside time to pray. The spiritual director gave her several Scripture passages, and she was drawn repeatedly to Jesus’s encounter with the children (from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 19). A. imagined herself as one of the children, ad felt herself hugged by Jesus. [2] What an intimate, engaging experience!

I would love to be hugged by Jesus. How nurturing and loving that would be. Can I feel the warmth and intimate experience of this kind of prayer, on a regular basis? What if I do not feel it at all? (Now, since I have had these opportunities and experiences in Ignatian prayer before, I know it is possible. I just have not often tried Ignatian prayer.)

Perhaps I am afraid, or shy, or leery, or hesitant.  Forgive me, please.

Dear Lord, please encourage my heart to try Ignatian prayer more often. Overcome my hesitancy and fear of failure. Thank You for being there, for having Your arms open wide. Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for running to meet me, like the Father from Luke 15 ran to meet the Prodigal. Help me to want that intimacy. Please, dear Lord. It is in Jesus’s precious name I pray, amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 38.

[2] Ibid, 39.

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

When I think about Ignatian prayer, the first thing that comes to mind is using my imagination. My “imagining cap” is never very far away, and I find imagining is often a fairly easy thing for me to do—to think and to pray in a way that invites imagination.

As Father Gallagher describes Ignatian contemplation, he says it is very much tied to the spiritual imagination. However, he also stresses personal reflection.

Is it that I am becoming more reflective as I find myself in my middle years, or is it my middle years that make me more reflective? I can sit and contemplate and pray at the drop of a hat, it seems. I mean, contemplate and pray for a half hour at a time now. In my thirties, that used to be much more of a challenge. Has my life and activities slowed down? I tend not to think so. Have I slowed down more, internally? Spiritually? Slowed myself down to the speed of contemplative prayer and meditation? Or, is it that I am finding more ease in the act of contemplation and prayer? Perhaps so. I am not sure which, but—perhaps.

Father Timothy describes the three steps of Ignatian contemplation in bullet points:

  • I see the persons
  • I hear the words
  • I observe the actions

“The process by which I imaginatively see the person, hear he words, and observe the actions of a Gospel [or, to speak more broadly, of a Biblical] scene, participating personally in the event, is Ignatian contemplation.” [1] He then addresses the questions that may come up as a matter of course: “Can I be personally active in the scene? Can I trust that God’s grace will operate in this imaginative approach? How can I know it is not ‘just my imagination?’” [2]

I can still vividly remember instances when I did use my imagination, and Ignatian prayer and contemplation. It was some years ago when the most vivid time happened. Yes, it is real. Yes, I can remember it with crystal clarity—and that does not happen very often at all.

Dear Lord, help me to practice Ignatian prayer and contemplation more often. I want to encounter You in a more intimate way, a way I have not been experiencing lately in my prayer times. Thank You for those times of prayer in the past. May I—may we experience more of You, Your heart, Your love for us and for others. In Your Son’s precious name we pray, amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

Happy, Faith-filled Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 8, 2019

prayer hands

Happy, Faith-filled Prayer

What a wonderful experience, to have happy, faith-filled prayer! That is what St. Ignatius intends for us to have, as we enter into the part of his prayer practice called meditation.

As Father Gallagher mentions M. and his prayer experience with the passage of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18), “he tells us that the words were ‘alive,’ ‘almost directly touching my heart,’ and…describes an unhurried, happy, faith-filled reflection on the words of the Scripture, with profound awareness of the Lord’s presence.” [1] What an intimate experience of God.

This deep, intimate communication with God was intensely personal for M. As he went deeper and deeper into prayer, this personal kind of communication delighted him, deep down to his inmost being. He felt “spiritually happy” for days.

As I reflect on Scripture, I find it difficult to make this kind of deep connection all the time, in prayer. Certainly, difficult all the time, and even most of the time. The best I can do is make a connection like M.’s on occasion. Sometimes. Yet, when I do, I have vivid flashes when I think back on those times. For example, some years ago I had an intense experience of Jesus and the man (or, person—leaving it open to the possibility of a woman) with a withered hand whom Jesus met in the synagogue. (From Luke 6:6-11.)

I have had hundreds of prayer experiences since, yet, I revisit that one in my mind and memory. Yes, I was practicing Ignatian prayer, and it was a particularly intense experience. Similar to M., I did have a deep sense of the presence of Jesus with me, alongside of me.

St. Ignatius considers this type of meditative prayer as reflective, that “process by which we enter the richness of God’s Word and hear the Word as spoken personally to us today.” [2] As we are now in Lent, perhaps that will be my Lenten practice. Or, maybe one of my practices.

I am already reading through a Lenten devotional book, and it has some interesting ideas. However, the devotional only has one perhaps two verses of Scripture each day. I wonder whether I might find some additional prayer prompts? God willing, I suspect I will be able to find some Bible readings for each day in Lent. Help me, dear God, as I do these practices, a draw closer to You and Your heart. God. In Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 27.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer: Vibrant Experience

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 23, 2019

Mark 4 Hitda-Codex-Christ-and-Apostles-on-the-Sea-of-Galilee-c.-1025-50-CE

Prayer: Vibrant Experience

Another person recounted his experience with prayer. Father Gallagher mentions how M. had begun his journey with Christianity eight years before the writing of this book. Except—M. very much wanted to experience God. His prayers were unsatisfying, as was his reading of Scripture. Then, he was invited into a prayer group, where they read the account of Jesus and His disciples in the boat during a storm on the sea of Galilee.

By his own account, M. had an experience that turned his relationship with Scripture, prayer, and with Jesus Himself upside down.

“It opened a new world for me…That evening, the Scripture came alive. I’d been passive, outside of it. It had just been a story. When I prayed in this way, I no longer felt like I was outside the story; I was in the story….but not so bound by it that I couldn’t ask something of Jesus or of Peter. And I realized that Jesus was not as far away as I thought. I found myself marveling at how near he was to me.” [1]

What a drastic change for M.’s Scripture reading and prayer life! How vital and vibrant his relationship with Jesus became.

I go through cycles with God. At times, I feel this deep, intense relationship with God—but not often. It is almost as if I am chasing this kind of experience, sometimes. I know I ought to be faithful, and continue to pray. And, I do. But, sometimes….

Yes, I have stories similar to M.’s account. I could tell of wonderful times of prayer. Mountain top prayers, I guess they are called. But, they are far and few between. I need to remind myself that I need to be faithful. That is what God wants from me—from us. Our faithfulness.

Dear God, forgive me for my lack of faith, and my hesitancy at consistent prayer. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Lead me to Yourself. In Jesus’s name I ask, amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 23.

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 16, 2019

rain on window, tree

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Father Gallagher did not shy away from presenting strong, deep emotions in this book. In the very first chapter, the very first personal story he brings to us relate some of these gut-wrenching emotions.

We hear more from K., a woman who suffered from a stroke some years ago. She had entered into a regular practice of Ignatian prayer and meditation. While on a retreat, she felt drawn to the passion and death of Jesus. She sat with that image, in that space, for hours. She was filled with compassion and terror as she tried to comfort Jesus in His passion. “She desires ‘to tell Him I was there for Him and that I would not leave Him alone.’ K. draws close to Jesus as she prays.” [1]

Her retreat director gently pointed out perhaps God was bringing together the experience of Jesus during His passion and death and her own, as she had experienced years before in her stroke and the long-term recovery from it.

K. then relates her return to prayer, and “scenes of my hospital stay after my stroke so many years before alternated with scenes of Jesus’ passion and death….I cried inconsolably for hours—seventeen years’ worth of tears. God was truly embracing me tightly and saying, ‘Do not be afraid even of this. I am holding you tightly and nothing can hurt you.’” [2]

How intense is this? In this time of prayer, K. allowed God to touch her deeply, in such a significant hurting place. Ever since her stroke, she had placed a certain internal part of herself at a distance from God. For years, even though she had a regular practice of prayer and meditation, K. had erected an internal barrier for protection.

I am so struck by this. What internal barriers have I erected? What messages of God do I ignore? Or, drown out? I can do this in so many ways. Work, relationships, activities, even busy-ness. Any or all of these can be distractions or excuses for allowing God into my life. Forgive me, dear Lord. Help me to desire You, to listen for Your voice and read Your Word. Thank You for loving me, and for drawing me close to You—even when I hold myself at a distance and erect barriers between You and me. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my heartfelt prayers.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 20.

[2] Ibid, 21.

Prayer: Comfort of God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 9, 2019

Jesus, medieval face

Prayer: Comfort of God

We are introduced to Ignatian prayer immediately, in this first chapter: Ignatian prayer and the effects it can have, internally What a powerful introduction it is, too.

A woman, K., relates about a time of spiritual retreat, and how during one of her times of prayer she was moved to pray with and enter into the trial of Jesus. As she entered fully into that scene, she was moved to think, “How could Jesus stand there while everyone called for His death, I wondered. How could He be so calm?[1]

Oh, my. I have just been through some down, disheartening days myself, not only in my personal life, but in my ministry as well. Not mega-serious – not like a cancer diagnosis or a house burning down – but truly disheartening, nonetheless. I have been having difficulty with keeping my cool, being calm, as well as positive. I immediately focused on K.’s question.

K. continued to pray, and she saw God the Father holding Jesus, encouraging Him, and letting Jesus know that God would never let Him go. After a long period of prayer, K. was aware of God communicating that same thing to her: “I realized that the Father was within me as He was within Jesus. [God] was also holding me: ‘Do not be afraid. You are safe in My arms.’” [2]

I realized as I read these words that God indeed has treasures waiting for me in Ignatian prayer and meditation. (Yes, I have discovered these treasures in the past, at the times I’ve used these practices. But, it is so difficult to keep up the practices…)

How much more do I need to have the Lord remind me that I can also have these kinds of prayer experiences from time to time? Now, Father Gallagher openly says that these kinds of encounters and communication do not happen all the time, or even on a regular basis. But, if I practice Ignatian prayer and meditation regularly myself, I will have these experiences from time to time. What a stunning thing for me to look forward to.

Thank You, Lord, for Your presence with me. Thank You for being available to me when I pray, whenever I pray. Help me to be more regular in my prayer and meditation, please. Just as K. showed in her account, You are ready to bless, to come alongside, to comfort, to encourage any one who might need it. Oh, Lord, help me to pray.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 19.

[2] Ibid.