In the Spiritual Exercises, we’re often instructed to ask for the grace we desire. That grace could be repentance, sorrow for sin, gratitude for God’s gifts, desire for truth and justice, and so on. We identify what grace we desire, and we ask God for it.
God already knows our desires. The asking we do is not for God but for us. Sometimes I don’t really know what I want until I try to name it. Often what I desire is in line with God’s desire for me and the world: truth, compassion, justice, healing.
But I also need to identify the desires that are not in line with holy love. I “should” desire forgiveness and reconciliation, but what I really want is revenge. I “should” desire healthy relationships in a thriving community, but I prefer to avoid other people and nurse my wounds alone.
What do I do when I don’t really desire the graces God offers me? It’s silly to lie to God by asking for something I don’t want. Yet, I need to keep communicating with God, even if my honest prayers are skewed by how I’m feeling and how I’m looking at the world.
It’s perfectly fine to ask for the grace to desire what’s better for me and others. Here’s a sample prayer:
Lord, right now I don’t care about [name] and I want nothing to do with her. All I feel is betrayal, anger, and hurt. I don’t want to talk to her, think about her, or deal with her. So, I offer this mixture of feelings to you. I can’t express what isn’t true, but I want to get to the place where I am willing to seek forgiveness or offer forgiveness. The wise part of me wants to get to the place where I can have a calm and loving conversation with this person. Lord, you and I both know that the time isn’t now. Please prepare me to say and do the right thing. Prepare her too. Prepare the right time for the right interaction. Help me want the better, higher thing. Amen.
You can use whatever bits and pieces of this sample prayer that suit you and your situation. I encourage you to pray with utter honesty—but also with faith and hope.