Prayer Guide







The techniques of St Ignatius of Loyola
How was your week? Were you able to picture Jesus talking to you? If you had trouble that is ok. My imagination is not one of my strong points. But if you have an active imagination, icons are very helpful. Were you able to loose yourself in the music you listened too? Did you listen to both Contemporary and traditional? If you did, did you notice a difference?  Some people find it easier to center with music. If this was you don’t be afraid to start your prayers with a song or two that help you relax and center. You may want to sing it yourself or just listen to it. We are now ready for the next God direction.

Starting point: The Sitting Plateau of Inaction

Destination: The Roller Coaster of Discipleship

Directions: get up and do the Will of God. I know it sounds scary. What if I make a mistake? What if I mess everything up? These are common questions but they cannot be allowed to stop you from doing what you have learned. Taking that next step, the one God is showing you, is the only way you will reach the next destination of your faith walk. Your faith is to grow, there is no time to sit and wait. Yes it is scary and it will be difficult but there will be times, although usually few, that you jump into the roller coaster and ride, the times that God’s Will is easy. There will be ups and downs but that is how we grow. Prayer, communion with God, requires you to do what you’ve learned. To change the way you live for God. If you don’t, prayer is useless. We are called to be Disciples of Christ, not of this world. The devil will try to make you scared to act. You will make mistakes but thru prayer God will use those mistakes to teach you and others. Let us read Romans 8:27-31 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 1

If you are in the Spirit, doing your best to follow God’s guidance, then God will use everything you do for His glory. When the devil attacks you and tries to scare you into inaction remember “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” and “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

The next prayer style is Ignatian prayer also known as guided meditation. This prayer style was developed in the 16th century and is commonly used by the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. This religious order was founded as a “counter-reformation” movement with the intentions to revitalize spirituality within the Roman Catholic Church. Because of this, many in the reformation bodies frown on their ideas and techniques. Ignatian prayer can be very helpful in nurturing a personal relationship with God.

With this style of prayer we learn to interact with God on His terms and we learn to listen to Him speak to us through His Word and in our imaginations, to perceive His voice which is already all around us, we learn to find graces poured out on us in prayer. As we learn to hold on to even those graces lightly—knowing that sometimes we hear what we want to hear instead of what God is actually saying to us—even mistakes can become graces as we learn to grow from them.2

Ignatian Prayer is an exercise that plays off of personal experience. It begins with a focus on our hopes and fears which then leads us to encounter God in our imagination and in the silence. In this way Ignatian prayer becomes personal, because through it we encounter God in our own imaginations and are able to interact with Him there. For some this raises a red flag because after all our imaginations participated in the fall and therefore is the play ground for the Devil and our evil desires. But if God can take our intellect, our reason, and sanctify it and use it for His good purpose, why then couldn’t He also sanctify our imagination and use it for His good and ours.

Thibodeaux suggests in his book Arm chair mystic that to pray with the imagination also, “demands a great deal of faith because I am never going to be able to prove to anyone—even to myself—that God is really communicating to me”(pg74) He also admits that we can fool ourselves when we engage in this type of prayer. “I know that I will be able to sense what it is that God is communicating to me. But isn’t it true that it could just be me talking to myself? Might I not be simply putting in the mouth of God the words I want to hear? Unfortunately, the answer is yes…For this reason, it is necessary to review my prayer.” (pg 101)

It is important to realize the dangers which accompany this style of prayer, but we must not allow the potential for abuse to cause us to abandon the practice…It is just as easy to use the Word of God incorrectly; to find a passage and twist it out of its context to make it appear to say something which it does not indeed say. Yet we insist that all matters of doctrine and practice be grounded in the Word, properly interpreted. The same kind of reasonable approach ought to be applied to the use of the imagination in prayer. We should be careful and always review and reflect to insure that we are not attributing to God things which we either invent or hear from other sources. Yet the practice itself has a lot of merit and properly used can be a valuable addition to our prayer life.2

St. Ignatius tells us to make an examination of our conscience as we pray according to his style. He suggests five steps to accomplish this:
  • “[R]ender thanks to God for the favors we have received”;
  • “[A]sk the grace to know my sins and to free myself from them”;
  • “[D]emand an account of my soul from the moment of rising until the present”;
  • “[A]sk pardon of God our Lord for my failing”;
  • “[R]esolve to amend my life with the help of God’s grace”
This forms the framework which lies under his method of guided meditation—and it reveals the goal of using guided meditation as a prayer style. This style of prayer uses the imagination to worship God and ask for His aid in growing in our spirituality; it uses the imagination to see ourselves as God in His holiness sees us; it uses the imagination to seek forgiveness from Christ Himself who suffered and died to secure forgiveness for us; and finally, it uses the imagination to grow in the process of sanctification.2

“The trick, then, is not to get God to answer me during prayer time, but rather to allow God to teach me how to perceive the answers that have been around me all along. That is what prayer does. It disposes me to hear God’s voice in the ordinary moments of my day. When I pray, therefore, I should not ask, ‘God give me a sign,’ but rather, ‘God give me sight,’ because this is what I really lack.”3

We don’t always hear God’s voice during prayer. Sometimes we will hear it during the day after prayer, sometimes we will realize during prayer that God had spoken to us earlier in the day or week. This is the result of prayer. Ignatian prayer is one more style that will guide us to listen and hear God. The important thing is that we then act on what God has revealed to us. This is how we will grow in faith.
Prayer Time:
  1. This is an exercise in Lectio Divina like before except now you will put yourself in the story. I have included suggestions at the end of this lesson for you to consider, but feel free to try others.
  2. It is important to remember your experiences, so you may want to write them down, this will allow you to review later and see where you may have applied your own thinking or to help you better see where God was speaking to you.
  3. Don’t be afraid of failure or mistakes. You will make some, you will allow your own thinking into the process but if you meditate on it you should be able to recognize those mistakes.
  1. Prayerfully choose the text that you will use.
  2. As before select a comfortable place to pray and begin your centering exercises and use of your Jesus Prayer or music
  3. Read through the whole passage;
  4. Ask God what themes are of special note to you today—watch for these;
  5. Reenact the passage in your imagination (either in this era or the past): smell the smells, hear the sounds, notice the others in the scene, but focus especially on Jesus;
  6. You may choose to replay the scene more than once and allow yourself to fit in as different people (a face in the crowd, one of the 12, a Pharisee, Jesus himself, etc.)
  7. Note what Jesus says to you (directly or through others) in word or deed as you imagine the story;
  8. Allow His words and actions to confront your heart’s core in Law (pointing out sin);
  9. Allow His words and deeds to speak to your soul in Gospel (assuring forgiveness);
  10. Note how your personal character could be more conformed to Christ’s image by considering yourself as you watch Him interact with others; and
  11. Resolve to allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen you to follow Jesus more closely.2
  1. Remember to allow God to show you the way, submit to His will, to His vision for you.
  2. It is helpful to discuss what is revealed to someone else who understands what you are doing.
Possible passages for your devotion:
  1. The Annunciation:  Luke 1:26-38
  2. The Nativity: Luke 2:1-14
  3. Either The adoration of the shepherds Luke 2:8-20 or  Magi:  Matthew 2:1-12
  4. The Baptism of Christ:  Matt 3:13-17
  5. The Temptation of Christ: Matthew 4:1-11
  6. The first miracle at Cana: John 2:1-11
  7. Jesus anointed by the sinful woman: Luke 7:36-50
  8. The institution of the Lord’s Supper: Matthew 26:17-30
  9. The words from the Cross: John 19:23-37; Matthew 27:35-39; Mark 15:24-38; Luke 23:34-46
  10. The Resurrection: Mark 16:1-11
1The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.)Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
2Contemplative Prayer Study, Lesson 6 Guided Meditation—using the techniques of St. Ignatius of Loyola, by Rev Derek Cheek
3Armchair Mystic by Fr. Mark Thibodeaux copy right 2001 page153

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