Ignatian prayer: Review the Scripture passage

Note: This is part 5 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.  For an overview of Ignatian prayer, click here.

After we allow God to look at us with love, the next step is to check out what God is saying to us in the Bible.  Familiarity with the passage allows us to get to the heart of prayer: a conversation with God.

Plus, the review will prove helpful in the next step of composition (imaginatively enter the place of the Scripture).

A common mistake for a beginner is to start praying the Scriptures without any reviewing the passage.  It takes only an unusual name or phrase to throw the person off.  Next thing, the person is trying to solve the problem (a mental exercise).  A conversation with God goes out the window.

The better solution is to be aware of the difficulty.  Then, in the body of the prayer, the person can ask the Holy Spirit to understand the passage.  “Holy Spirit, what are you trying to say here?”  The key here is to allow God to encounter us in our confusion.

The beauty of this step is that the review of this passage does not need to happen during prayer time.  It can occur the night before or a few hours before the prayer.  St. Ignatius of Loyola recommends that the person think about the passage before bed and just after waking.  It keeps the Word of God before the person’s mind.

If you’re doing a repetition on the passage, you don’t need to review the passage as much.  You might focus on a particular part of the passage or an image from the last prayer session.

Scripture suggestions:

  1. Psalm 77:7
  2. Psalm 77:12-13
  3. Proverbs 16:20

Reflection questions:

  1. What is the best time for you to review the Scripture passage for prayer?  What is one thing you can do?
  2. How would you react if you have a problem understanding a passage?  How would you resolve the problem?

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