Thankfully we have some great advice on prayer from the saints who have gone before us. In this post I am going to give you 5 steps outlining a way to pray — taken from methods that St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis de Sales wrote about.
5 Steps to pray with Scripture:
- Place yourself in the presence of God. Remember that God is near. He is already in your heart and and all around.
- Ask the Lord to help you pay attention to Him. We need God’s grace to quiet our racing thoughts, to focus, to quiet the distractions clamoring for our attention, and to be open to His Word and presence.
- Pick out a passage from Scripture. Maybe choose a scene from the Gospel where Jesus is healing someone, calming a storm, or instructing his disciples. Try to picture yourself in the same place using your imagination. What do you notice? What strikes you about what Jesus says or does?
- Or you can choose one of the readings or part of a psalm to reflect on. What line jumps out at you? What thought do you want to spend some more time with? Stay with that one idea or theme as long as it is bearing fruit.
- Pay attention to the stirrings of your heart. Are you feeling gratitude for God’s mercy, or drawn to help the poor in your area, or inspired to pray more regularly? Or maybe some unconfessed sin is coming to mind. God speaks to us through His Word and in the quiet of our hearts.
- Make some practical resolution. Are there changes you would like to make as a response to the stirrings in your heart? Write down one or two of these resolutions, in as practical and concrete a way as you can, and decide to work on them.
St. Francis de Sales reminds us:
“Most of all, after you rise from meditation you must remember the resolutions and decision you have made and carefully put them into effect on that very day. This is the great fruit of meditation and without it meditation is often not only useless but even harmful. Virtues meditated on but not practiced sometimes inflate our minds and courage, and we think that we are really such as we have thought and resolved to be.”
End your time of prayer
Take a moment to thank God for the light and insights He has given you in this time of prayer.
Offer your resolutions to God, in union with Jesus’ offering on the Cross, and ask for the grace to put them into practice.
Close with an Our Father.