Colloquy: Conversing with God

colloquyWhat is a colloquy? I’ll let Kevin O’Brien, SJ, explain:

A colloquy is an intimate conversation between you and God the Father, between you and Jesus, or between you and Mary or one of the saints. It often occurs at the end of a prayer period, but it can take place at any time. Let this conversation naturally develop in your prayer.

In the colloquy, we speak and listen as the Spirit moves us: expressing ourselves, for example,
as a friend speaks to a friend, or
as a person speaks to one whom he or she has offended, or
as a child speaks to a parent or mentor, or
as a lover speaks to his or her beloved.

The Ignatian Adventure, page 95

The colloquy is important in the Spiritual Exercises, because Ignatius was intent on people discovering that they could develop a relationship with God that was personal, honest, and uncomplicated.

Some traditions use “conversational prayer,” which is basically the same as a colloquy. You communicate with God as you would speak with another person sitting across from you. That is, you say directly and honestly what is going on with you. You imagine Jesus or Mary or another saint sitting or walking with you, and you share what is in your heart and mind.

Colloquy can be intimidating for someone whose only prayer has been expressed in traditional prayers memorized and recited. There’s nothing wrong with traditional prayers—they are foundational to the ongoing human conversation with the Divine. They give us words when we’re not sure what to say—remember when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray? That’s when he gave them what we have come to call the Our Father. Jesus knew that God loves us tenderly as a father loves his children. And children can speak freely to a loving father. Jesus wanted his disciples to internalize this wonderful truth about God’s love.

But, in a colloquy, the only words are our own, and that can make us nervous. Will I say the wrong thing? Will I offend God? Why would God listen to me? What do I know about how I should talk with God?

We grow more comfortable with colloquy as we do it more often. The first few prayers might be little more than, “Lord, I don’t know where to begin. What should I say to you?” But, just as we get better at talking with people as the relationships grow, after a while, we will be talking with God as with a friend. We speak to a friend with love, affection, respect, and honesty. Sometimes we speak with humor or frustration. It’s all okay. God knows every detail of what we are trying to express through our faltering words.

God waits to hear from you. Why not give colloquy a try?


  1. I just fell in love with the Ignatian way of praying and I feel more united with God than before especially when I try to apply the five senses during my prayer there is a union I experience deep within me.

  2. I enjoyed and loved the above article on COLLOQUY. I love praying a lot because i see see it as my major source of strength. During my silent time which i believe to be time to listen and here from God, I find it difficult to say for sure that what filtered into my mind at the time is from God. Sometimes ugly and impure thought wont just let me hear. so i just keep talking just to shut the bad and negative thought out of my head. My question is how do I know its God speaking

    • Really, when you start this colloquy journey you would be filled with doubts at what flirts into your mind, more so as you observed, all manner of thoughts crowding into your consciousness. As this journey continues, you would become more confident an would no more be in doubt which is the voice of God and which is not. The experience of young Samuel at Shilo is instructive.
      Many years ago when I was about getting married, I engaged in a colloquy type of prayer a lot. Although in serious involvement with the charismatic renewal, I had messages concerning what I was praying for, which did not leave any doubt in me of its divine source, such that even up to today I still hold on to those messages.


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