Learn Ignatian prayer: Overview

Note: This is part 2 of a series of proclaiming the Word of God as a lector, who reads the 1st and/or 2nd Scripture passages at Mass.  Check out the beginning entry on reading the Bible.  Check out a PDF of Venerable Bruno’s preparation for the Mass.

Along with reading the Bible, praying with Scripture is crucial for all Christians, let alone the lectors.  God speaks all the time.  But because of Original Sin, we can’t hear Him clearly.  The first place to train ourselves to hear God is encounter the printed Word of God in our prayer.

There are various ways to pray with Scriptures.  One way is Ignatian prayer.  Developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, this prayer aims to engage the heart, mind and soul.

Below are the steps of Ignatian prayer.

Introductory steps

  1. I will consider how God our Lord looks upon me with great love.
  2. I will review the Scripture for this prayer.
  3. I imaginatively enter the place of this Scripture (composition).
  4. I ask of God what I wish and desire in this prayer.

Body of the prayer

Ignatian Contemplation or Ignatian Meditation

Concluding steps

  1. I speak to God as my heart is moved (colloquy).
  2. I conclude with an Our Father.

Subsequent blog entries will tackle each step (including body of the prayer for Ignatian contemplation and Ignatian meditation).  Some people might balk at the methodical process.  One must remember that each step leads to the goal of Ignatian prayer: relationship with God.  Fr. Tim Gallagher, OMV likened these steps as scaffolding to the building.  Once the habit of prayer is established, the scaffold is still available.  But the steps become more adjustable like any other conversation.

Suggestions for beginners:

  1. Start small: Set aside 10-15 minutes a day in prayer.  It’s better to be consistent every day rather than occasionally praying for 30 minutes.  Prayer needs to become a habit.
  2. Go outside in: Practice the first (God’s gaze of love) and last step (Our Father).  Then, work your way in (2nd and colloquy, etc.).  These will ground the easy steps.
  3. Celebrate the victories and correct the mistakes. Prayer can be difficult at times.  First, thank God for your achievements.  If you fail, God always beckons with encouragement and mercy.  Don’t give up.  BEGIN AGAIN!

Scripture suggestions:

  1. 2 Timothy 3:15-17
  2. Hebrews 4:12
  3. Romans 15:4
  4. Psalm 19:7-11

Reflection questions:

  1. What is the best time for you to pray with Scripture daily?  How much time can you schedule?
  2. Do you have a favorite place in your home to pray? If not, what is the first step you can do to make one?
  3. What is your most comfortable position to pray?  Kneeling?  Standing?  Sitting?
  4. What is your favorite Scripture to pray with? And why?

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