Ignatian Prayer: It’s about relationship

Note: This is part 11 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.

This entry synthesizes all the lessons on each of the steps of Ignatian prayer. After spending about eight months on this topic, I find that one word can summarize this teaching: RELATIONSHIP. 

The Father desires that human beings enter into a relationship with Him.  But the Fall and our wounded human nature prevent us from having an easy relationship with Him. The Father responds by sending the Son in the flesh.  The Incarnation shows that a relationship with God is as easy as a conversation with Jesus.  The Spirit enables us to have that relationship and conversation.

In this video, I break down how the prayer steps make explicit what we do automatically when we meet a friend somewhere.

The need for being intentional in building our relationship with God explains the explicitness of the steps.  We have to remind ourselves that God is a person who desires to meet us as a friend in prayer.  Below, the prayer steps are lined with the steps in meeting a friend.

comparison

In the video, I forget to mention the step of composition.  After you see your friend on the street and observe where that person is, you have to be aware of where you are.  Maybe you see that friend while you are crossing the street.  But that means you have to finish crossing the street before you start a conversation or else a car might hit you.  Likewise, composition places you in the context of the biblical story.  When Jesus heals the paralytic, are you in the crowd?  Are you the paralytic?  Are you one of the friends?  Where you are affects how you interact with Jesus.  A good rule of thumb is to place yourself as close to Jesus as you can.

A big help in this insight is Fr. Robert Marsh, SJ.  He wrote about the prayer steps as a model for spiritual direction in guiding the directee toward an encounter with God. But that encounter helps foster relationship.

May you reap great fruit through the Word of God.

Scripture suggestions:

  1. John 15:12-17: Jesus calls his disciples his friends.
  2. Isaiah 49:14-16: God does not forget you.
  3. Matthew 9:1-8: Jesus heals the paralytic.
  4. Matthew 6:5-14: Jesus gives the Lord’s Prayer and counsels on prayer during the Sermon on the Mount.
  5. Luke 11:1-13: After a request by a disciple, Jesus gives the Lord’s Prayer and teaches about persevering in prayer.

Reflection questions:

  1. How have you grown in your relationship to God?
  2. What do you desire to improve in your relationship to God?
  3. How has prayer helped you love friends, family and strangers?

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