A Prayerful Journey of Spiritual Growth and Healing

It is of immense help to explore the profound contemplative tradition within our Catholic faith and to understand that horizons within which spiritual development occurs. Ultimately, however, the Holy Spirit is the master of prayer and wants to be your guide.

The following eight exercises are offered as a means to place yourself in the school of the Spirit. They target particularly those challenging areas that thwart the progress of people who pray. They are labeled steps precisely because they build on one another. You may find them most helpful if you take each step in order, although you certainly may use them in any order you feel drawn. For some of the steps you will need a pen, paper and bible, as indicated. If you feel you would be nourished by more time on some point or another of the prayer exercise I invite you to pause the recording and give yourself and the Spirit all the time you desire. It would be preferable to not finish the prayer guide, than to rush through it. Without any pause the prayer guides are a total of 25 minutes. The essential text of the prayer guides are reproduced below for your convenience.


Topic 24: Step Eight: Prayer of Transformation

For this prayer you will need a bible. Possible readings for the first part of prayer could be:

  • John 13:1-20 Jesus washes the disciple‘s feet
  • Philippians 2:5-11: Christ‘s humility
  • Luke 1:46-56: Mary‘s song of praise
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: The gift of love
  • Matthew 19:16-30: The rich young man
  • Luke 4:16-21: Jesus comes to set us free
  • 1 John 4:18-19: Love casts out fear
  • Luke 17:11-19: Jesus cleanses ten lepers
  • Luke 8:22-25: Jesus calms the storm
  • Luke 9:28-36: The Transfiguration
  • Philippians 2:1-11: Putting on the mind and heart of Christ
  • Matthew 5:1-12: The beatitudes
  • Ephesians 3:14-21: Christ dwells in your heart

 

In a holy sanctuary or quiet spot, take some moments to focus yourself. By now you may have a favorite short prayer, or you may wish to use one of the following:

Quiet. Peace.
Amen. Letting be.
Still. Letting go.

For a short while let go of your thoughts, your attempts to understand, plan, or analyze. Immerse yourself in a mystery larger than yourself.

Talk to God about the strongest emotions you are feeling right now or the situations in your life that are challenging you or blessing you the most.

Ask the Spirit to shed light on your mind, will and heart so that you will begin to more and more think, speak, act, and love like Jesus. Tell Jesus how much you desire to receive all that he came on earth to make possible for us: a sharing in God‘s own life now and forever in heaven.

 

Read a passage from Scripture. Listen to what is being said to you in your heart as you read. In his word, God speaks directly to us, now, regarding what we most need to hear and receive at each moment.

 

Read the passage three times with a quiet pause in between each time. In the stillness do not think about the reading, apply it, develop it. Just be still. If it helps you, root yourself in your breath to stay in the present moment.

 

Choose a phrase of the passage that resonates with you in some way: either it challenges you, confirms you or comforts you. Repeat the phrase quietly allowing it to water your spirit as the gentle spring rain. Or else imagine yourself in the scene of the Scripture passage and speak directly to Jesus about what you notice about him, the way he acts, or speaks, or his attitudes. Speak directly to him about what you notice and desire.

 

If your attention wanders, bring it back gently.

 

Take a few moments to read the book of your life. Get in touch with what you‘re feeling about what‘s happening in your life. Where is there tension? Where is there lightness? Where is there clarity? Where is their frustration? Is there a relationship that is troubling you? Or one that you find especially fulfilling? With what spirit are you approaching your work and responsibilities? Where is God present to you most in your life? Least?

 

Read the passage from the Scriptures again, offering these experiences and realities to Jesus. Listen for the way the Word of God speaks to your life situations. Speak to Jesus about your life. Tell him what you desire.

 

Now gather up a word or a phrase from your reading, a word that embodies the experience of your prayer. Say it quietly to yourself and then settle into the silence. When your mind begins to wander repeat the word. Gently bring your thoughts back to your prayer. You can become aware of your breathing if it helps to root you in this present moment where you need to do nothing else but be present. Here God is giving himself to you with tenderness and trust. Wait. Listen. Trust. Allow it to arise within you as a fountain.

Here you and Jesus are one. He has united himself with you forever when he became man. He invites you to share in his divinity. You are invited to a fusion of heart, will and mentality with Jesus. ―The affections of Jesus are mine; the will of Jesus is my will; the thoughts of Jesus are my thoughts. In fact, it is Jesus who lives in my mind. I loan him my mind, but it is he who think in me. I loan him my heart, but it is he who loves in me and with me. I loan him my will because I want what he wants in me. And I not only loan these to him, but it is Jesus who lives in me. He lives in me; he loves in me; he wills in me; he works in me.‖ (Blessed James Alberione, SSP)

 

Now you are invited to a still contemplative silence. Now is the time for a simple gaze of adoration, a gaze which is a response to God‘s loving gaze upon you. Be fully aware that God has gazed upon you first. Allow him to look upon you with love. Allow yourself to be seen.

 

In true silence, the humble heart has nothing to say for itself. Be as a simple vessel drinking in grace until it is full.

 

Jesus reshapes you in his own image when you adore him. He reshapes your mind, your thoughts, your biases, your preferences, your worldview. He reshapes your will, your decisions, your commitments, your character. He reshapes your desires, your loves, your attractions.

 

Jesus gazes on you with love. What do you want? he asks. If we only knew how to look at him. If we only knew how to love him. If we only knew….


Suggested Readings

Ahlgren, Gillian. Entering Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle: A Reader’s Companion. Mahwah, NY: Paulist, 2005.

Antier, Jean-Jacques. St. Teresa of Avila: God Alone Suffices. Boston, MA: Pauline, 2007.

Avila, Teresa. Interior Castle: The Classic Text with a Spiritual Commentary. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2007.

Bernard, Bangley, The Cloud of Unknowing. Orleans, MA: Paraclete, 2006.

Brother Lawrence. Practice of the Presence of God. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2005.

Bryan, Mark and Cameron, Julia. The Artist‘s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1999.

Curley, Marie Paul. Bread of Life, Prayers for Eucharistic Adoration. Boston, MA: Pauline, 2004.

de Caussade, Jean-Pierre. The Sacrament of the Present Moment. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1989.

d‘Elbée, Jean C. J. I Believe in Love—A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2001.

Del Mastro, M.L. The Revelation of Love in Sixteen Showings Made to Dame Julian of Norwich. Liguori, MI: Liguori, 1994.

Fleming, David. What Is Ignatian Spirituality? Chicago, IL: Loyola, 2008.

Gallagher, Timothy, OMV. Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today. City, State: Crossroad, 2006.

Gans, George. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: A Translation and Commentary. Chicago, IL: Loyola, 1992.

Hall, Thelma. Too Deep for Words–Rediscovering Lectio Divina. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1988.

Hermes, Kathryn. The Journey Within. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 2004.

John-Julian. Love‘s Trinity: A Companion to Julian of Norwich, Long Text with a Commentary. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2009.

Johnston, William (editor). The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counselling. New York: Random, 1996.

Keating, Thomas, O.C.S.O. Active Meditations for Contemplative Prayer. London, UK: Continuum, 2007.

Keating, Thomas, O.C.S.O. The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living—Excerpts from the Writings of Father Thomas Keating. London, UK: Continuum, 2009.

Kidd, Sue Monk. When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life‘s Sacred Questions (Plus). San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2006.

Laird, Martin. Into the Silent Land. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Larranaga, Ignacio, OFM. Cap. Sensing Your Hidden Presence: Toward Intimacy with God. New York: Galilee Books, 1987.

Llewelyn , Robert . All Shall Be Well. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1985.

Maloney, George. Prayer of the Heart. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2008.

Matthews, Ian. The Impact of God. Soundings from St. John of the Cross. Hachette Livre, UK: Hodder Headline, 1995.

Merton, Thomas. New Seeds of Contemplation. New York: New Directions, 2007.

Nouwen, Henri. The Inner Voice of Love–A Journey Through Anquish to Freedom. New York: Random, 1999.

Pentkovsky, Aleksei. The Pilgrim‘s Tale. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1999.

Reinhold, H. A. (editor). The Soul Afire: Revelations of the Mystics. New York: Pantheon Books, 1944.

Schultz, Karl. How to Pray with the Bible: the Ancient Prayer Form of Lectio Divina Made Simple. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2007.

Van Breeman, Peter G. The God Who Won’t Let Go. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2001.

Weil, Simone. Waiting for God. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2009.

Weil, Simone and Springsted, Eric. Simone Weil. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1998.

Wick, Robert. Everyday Simplicity: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Growth. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2000.

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