There’s no great mystery to Ignatian prayer, but this week is a good time to review. If you want to pray in the Ignatian way, here are three ways to do it—not an exhaustive list but a good start.
1. Do the Examen.
At the end of the day, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your memory over the day’s events and conversations. Give thanks for the blessings of the day. Ask God’s forgiveness if you have wandered from Jesus’ path of truth, compassion, and kindness. Ask God’s help with any negative patterns you see in your life, or for strength and wisdom to deal with upcoming events or issues. You can do this prayer once a day, twice a day, three times a day; the important thing is to develop a pattern that’s best for you. For more about the Examen, click here.
2. Put yourself in a Gospel story.
Just choose which character you’re going to be, and walk right into the scene where Jesus heals someone, delivers a teaching, or feeds thousands. You can be a main character in the story, or you can be a bystander or friend that you simply invent for this prayer. Don’t get distracted by trying to be historically accurate or in line with church teaching about a certain story—this is not about you interpreting Scripture in a scholarly way. The point is to encounter Jesus. You ask the Holy Spirit to guide this very spiritual function, the human imagination, to where you need to go.
3. Pray as though you are having a conversation across the dinner table or in your living room.
In the Spiritual Exercises, this is called a colloquy, but actually it’s just conversational prayer. You speak to Jesus as you would a close friend. You speak to Mary, his mother, or to God the Father/Creator, or to the Holy Spirit who is comforter, or to one of the saints, who can be part of this conversation with the Divine. Sometimes, when we pray the way we talk, it can enable us to be more honest. Probably the only danger is that we become flippant or casual, but this isn’t much of a temptation when we remember who it is we’re talking to.
So, in honor of St. Ignatius, whose feast day is tomorrow, give Ignatian prayer a try. Let us know how that goes.