Dr. Douglas Gregg, Christian Formation and Direction Ministries
Prayer of Consideration in the Ignatian Tradition
The Prayer of Consideration involves an intellectual approach to Scripture, searching for insights in much the same manner as inductive Bible study, asking these questions: Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? These questions help us understand and organize the content of a passage, not just for the purpose of understanding or to teach others, but especially for the purpose of prayer—conversation with God. Jesus gives us the clue when he says, “Consider the lilies of the field…” This is an invitation to consider and reflect, to take time to ponder and wait upon the Lord for insight and understanding. As you consider a text you may identify
- Principle insights that you are to live by
- Attachment insights that connect you to Jesus
- Interior insights that show you something about yourself
- Detachment insights that challenge you to become indifferent to things of this world
Especially ask the Lord for attachment insights that will deepen your identification with Jesus and increase your love for him and your desire to be like him. As you pray along the way and at the close, thank the Lord as he reveals insights to you, petition him for discernment in evaluating the insights, talk to him about the conviction you are feeling or other feelings that are triggered by your reading, and praise and thank him for his gifts of consolation provided during the time of prayer.
Ignatius wrote, “…I consider Jesus Christ our Lord and his call. If a human leader can have an appeal to us, how much greater is the attraction of the God-Man, Jesus Christ…. Jesus’ call goes out to all peoples, yet he especially calls each person in a particular and unique way. He makes this kind of appeal: ‘It is my will to win over the whole world, to overcome evil with good, to turn hatred aside with love, to conquer all the forces of death—whatever obstacles there are that block the sharing of life between God and humankind. Whoever wishes to join me in this mission must be willing to labor with me, and so by following me in struggle and suffering may share with me in glory.’” (#95)
Exercise: Where Jesus’ life touches mine
Objective: Choose an episode in the life of Christ that is most appealing or inspiring to you and that evokes within you a strong desire to be like him and devote yourself to him.
Scripture: Let the Lord draw you to a text. If nothing comes, begin to read through the Gospel of Mark or one of the other three gospels, trusting that you will be led to the passage you are to consider.
- Prepare: Preparatory prayer—“O God, open my mind and heart….”
- Read and reflect: Having selected a passage of Scripture where Jesus seems most appealing or inspiring to you, consider the passage carefully. What about Jesus in this passage particularly challenges, consoles, or inspires you? Are there insights here that you should consider, regarding principles to live by, points of attachment to Jesus, interior insights that show you something about yourself, or detachment insights that challenge you to become indifferent to things of this world? What does God want you to know, remember, or pay attention to on this particular day?
- Be especially sensitive to your emotional response to the person of Christ: What are your feelings of attraction to and love for Jesus? Are there any Heart Prayers bubbling up—consolations of peace, joy, confidence, praise, urges for self-giving, etc? Be sure to reflect on what the passage you chose says about you and your relation to Christ.
- Pray: Ask the Lord to help you understand and interpret any insights you have received. Especially ask the Lord for a greater desire to become more like him, particularly in regard to the quality in Jesus that appeals to you, then express your love and admiration to Jesus through prayers of adoration.
- Review and record: Review your prayer time and journal what has been significant and you want to remember.
During the day: Hold close the incident from Jesus’ life that you have chosen and allow God to elaborate on this in your own life or focus it in some way for you. Is there a breath prayer that comes from the passage? Use this to be re-centered in God during the day.