Ignatian Prayer

Ignatian Prayer

Listen now

Following the earlier post on Lectio Divina, we now look at the Ignatian approach to praying with the Bible. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuits and he thought about ways of making prayer an immediate and powerful experience for anyone looking to deepen their relationship with God.

A particular feature of the Jesuits was that they were to pray wherever they happened to be. They presuppose that God is present in our world and active in our lives. As Ignatius said, they were to ‘find God in all things’.

Spiritual Exercises

Ignatius compiled his approach to meditation and prayer into what was called his Spiritual Exercises. Here he encouraged the person praying to enter into the Bible passage using all of their senses. To hear the noise of the crowd, smell the sweet perfume being poured on the feet, feel the intense heat in the desert, touch the rough wood of the cross or taste the freshly fire-cooked fish.

There are 4 stages:

  • Find somewhere comfortable and read the passage that you’ve chosen through enough times to remember the details
  • Put the Bible away and re-run the story in your mind, first by imagining the scene. Such as what is the landscape? How tall are the buildings? How narrow and steep the path? Is the weather hot or cold? Is it noisy or quiet?
  • Then what are the people doing? Are they silent, crying, laughing, shouting? What is their body language? Are you on the edge of what’s happening? If so, move closer to where the action is. Can you have a conversation with one of the characters? If it’s Jesus can you talk to him about what just happened, how it made you feel?
  • After letting that run, slowly withdraw from the scene and come back out. Saying the Lord’s Prayer is a good way to finish. Think about what you’ve seen and remembered. Ideally write it down so you can look back at it later. What have you learnt and understood from this?

Take, Lord, receive

Another way of finishing the Ignatian approach is using Ignatius’ Prayer of Abandonment:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory, my understanding,

and my entire will,

All I have and call my own

You have given all to me

To you, Lord, I return it

Everything is yours; do with it what you will

Give me only your love and your grace,

that is enough for me

– Suscipe, St Ignatius of Loyola

Try the Ignatian approach on these passages from John’s Gospel:

If you liked this look at Ignatian prayer then please take a look at the earlier post on Lectio Divina. The next in the series is on Celtic prayer. Thanks to Jon Tyson for the great photo on Unsplash.

Useful reading:

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