Ignatian prayer: Ask for the grace

Note: This is part 7 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.

Right before we enter into the body of our prayer, St. Ignatius of Loyola recommends that we ask God what we wish and desire.

Fr. Tim Gallagher, OMV in his book Meditation and Contemplation writes that we are inspired in these areas to ask the grace.

  1. The Scripture: A healing story might prompt us to ask for healing.
  2. Our daily lives: Something might be troubling us.
  3. The prayer method itself: We need help to pray.

The pitfall for beginners is to overcomplicate this step.  What could I ask?  How much should I ask?

But St. Ignatius asks us to check our hearts.  What do we actually wish and desire right at that moment?  Put that into words.  “Lord, it’s a stressful day.  Help me be with you today.”  “Lord, it’s a wonderful day today.  Share in my joy.”

What if we completely blank out when we think about a grace?  We can simply ask, “Lord, help me know you more so I could love more and follow you more closely.”

Another danger is that we might treat God as a vending machine.  God, I put in this time of prayer.  Now give me what I want.

Yes, grace is a gift from God.  But God isn’t separated from his actions.  When we ask for healing, we ask God to come to us with his healing power.  We must remember that when we ask for a grace, we receive God himself.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the grace.  Asking reminds us that prayer is a conversation.

Scripture suggestions:

  1. Matthew 20:29-34 or Mark 10:46-52: Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”
  2. Isaiah 7:10-14: Ahaz is rebuked for refusing to ask.
  3. Psalms 61, 88, 107 : A cry from the heart.

Reflection questions:

  1. What do you wish and desire right now from God?  Can you express that desire?
  2. What problems are you facing right now?  How can you bring that to God?
  3. How easy was it for you to share your wishes and desires to someone?

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