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A Way for Prayer: Format and Reflection

Updated: Jan 26

The Ignatian Prayer Period format is used during The Spiritual Exercises, it is structured with a beginning, middle, and end. When praying with the scriptures it naturally has the movements found in Lectio Divina: with a preparatory (beginning), then naturally flowing into Lectio (middle section) and ending with a formal close) followed by a Reflection. This same structured format of praying is what we can use for the daily Mass readings

Presupposition: If needed study the scripture beforehand to address questions for understanding. Studying, reading, and praying are different ways we encounter scripture, yet are not the same.

Compose Self

Turning attention toward God

Image the reality of God's gaze of love upon you (Looking at God looking at you)

(This time of gaze is in and of itself is a contemplative prayer ‘of being with’)

Preparatory Offering Prayer – a surrendering, offering of your complete self

In your own words or

St. Ignatius’ Prayer: Receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Take my memory, understanding, and entire will. Whatever I have or possess, You have given me; I restore it all to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by Your will.

Preparatory Petitionary Prayer – it’s a grace request – deepest desires, needs, hopes

o In your own words or

o Use your imagination Jesus asking you “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51 and respond to his question. _______________________. or

o Formal prayer: “I ask for this grace_________(specific) and that all my intentions, actions, and operations may be ordered purely to the service and praise and greater glory of God my Creator and Savior.


o Praying with an assigned Scripture* as the Exercise; or

o Praying with an assigned Meditation as the Exercise ie. Two Standards

Depending upon the Exercise either a Scripture or a specific Meditation it will elicit either more of a discursive mental method- Ignatian meditation (using mental powers of intellect, memory, and will) or imaginative methods of entering into prayer- Ignatian Contemplation - Composition of Place and Application of Senses

*During this Prayer of holy reading (Lectio Divina), we enter into different levels of experiences while praying with scriptures or non-scriptural-based holy writings, depending upon the method we use. In the beginning, we need to learn the different methods and practice them intentionally, so they become natural and intuitive.

This is the human side of the activity, to help us be disposed, all the time remembering that all is gift, we have been drawn by God desiring to be with us.

The Four Movements of Lectio Divina are:

· Reading - Lectio

· Reflecting - Meditatio

· Responding - Oratio

· Resting – Contemplatio

We enter into ‘reading’ – lectio; we become aware, we consider – meditatio; we enter into a dialogue, respond – oratio; we come to a place of rest – contemplation. These are four movements with different levels of accompanying experiences that may seem mechanical at first - a step-by-step pattern (Scholastic method of intentional movement) yet we allow the Spirit to move us through each phase as the Spirit will (Monastic method) in a back-and-forth movement in different patterns.

Though we begin prayer in Lectio, we may be drawn immediately into contemplation, or be filled spontaneously with an oratio, as we allow ourselves to be led.

Ignatian way of praying with Scriptures is with attention and intention; it takes ‘work’ on our part. That is why he used the term Spiritual Exercises


3 Ways to Close our Exercise

· Formal Vocal Prayer (Our Father, Hail Mary …)

· Colloquy (Personal prayer or the Exercise Colloquy)

· Gestures (Sign of Cross, Kneel)


After the Close of Prayer Period

1. The Importance of the Review of Graces Received

· The Review is an intentional conscious inquiry of our prayer per