One of the biggest revelations one can have in prayer is that he or she is loved, especially those who have experienced trauma or abandonment. When I was a hospital chaplain I would often recommend this prayer: imagine God gazing down on you and ask yourself how he feels.
This prayer is Ignatian in that it is inspired by the meditation on the Incarnation, which involves the Trinity looking down on the world. God’s gaze upon us is always one of love, and I had one patient who especially clung to this. He said for days he made that his prayer. Knowing God loved him made his medical situation much more bearable. So often in our attempts to find God’s presence around us we fail to realize that God is seeking us: “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
My spiritual director once recommended that for my daily Examen, instead of trying to feel God’s presence I let God feel my presence. I imagined what it might look like from God’s perspective as God brought me into God’s mind, felt my presence, and gained awareness of what I was feeling that day. This loving gaze revealed to me God’s desire for prayer with me, that my feelings mattered, and that God not only wanted to know about my day but wanted to experience it with me. That is compassionate love.
Not all of us have experienced major trauma, but every one of us has felt abandoned at one time or another, feeling needless or unimportant. Knowing that we are deeply loved by God—even sought out in compassion—is one of the greatest soul-healing realizations we can have.