THREE PHASES IN PRAYER
During the retreat, you are encouraged to follow these three phases in your meditation and contemplation.
First Phase: Preparation (Before Prayer)
- Last Thought of the Day: If you are going to pray in the morning, before going to bed on the previous day, kindly go through the passage or the subject matter to be prayed over. Stay with one word or phrase. Repeat it as you go to bed. Let God be the last thought of your day.
- First Thought of the Day: While getting up from sleep call to mind again the matter for prayer. Continue to repeat that one word or phrase and begin to relish it. Let God be the first thought of your day.
- Just before entering into Prayer: Think about what you are about to do. Ask yourself: “Where am I going and why?” “Before whom am I going to appear?” Bring yourself to a disposition of deep reverence.
Second Phase: Prayer
- Posture: Take a comfortable and conducive posture. Don’t change your posture constantly.
- Grace: Ask earnestly for the particular grace that you long for during that particular hour.
- Read the Passage: Read meditatively the scripture passage on the subject matter.
- Be Part of the Passage: Imagine the particular mystery is taking place NOW! You be part of the scene. Identify yourself with any of the characters in the passage.
- Listen to your Interior Movements: Observe what is going on within you: thoughts, feelings, desires,.. Did you feel happy or sad as you were praying over the passage? Did you experience any blocks or resistance? Did you remember any of your past experiences?
- Be with the Lord: This is an intense moment of your prayer. Share with the Lord what you are going through at this moment. Listen to him: What is he telling you? What is your response? It is a moment when “God (the Lifeline) looks at me and I look at God (the Lifeline)”. You are closely united to the Lifeline here. It is a prayer of the heart. You become what you contemplate!
- Prayer of Thanks giving: Conclude the prayer by thanking the Trinity.
Third Phase: Review (After Prayer)
- After the prayer, make a review of your prayer experience by asking yourself: What happened to me during the prayer? How did God deal with me? How did I respond? etc. Write down the core experience of the hour. Perhaps, at the end of the day, if possible, you could share your review with your friend / family member/ community member / guide.
- Review of the prayer is as important as the time spent in prayer. Review is a time to discern the workings of the spirit during the prayer hour.
- Stay attuned to the Life-line amidst your daily chores by repeating the mantra (a sacred word or a phrase).
- The quality of silence you experience during the day is an indication of the quality of prayer.
The above points are adapted from The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola [73-81]
Fr JossieD’Mello, SJ