God’s Gaze

eye gazeOne 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.

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Andy Otto
Andy Otto is an Ignatian blogger and spiritual director. He currently works in adult faith formation and retreat direction at a Jesuit parish and retreat center in Atlanta, GA, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Andy is the author of God Moments and holds a master’s degree in theology and ministry from Boston College.


  1. On a retreat, I was given a card, written on it were the words, “Behold God, beholding you and smiling”. These words are written in my mind, especially on difficult days. It is a thoughtful exchange of love holding me in His arms.

  2. Wow, today for the first time I heard about gazing prayer. It’s something I will work on doing. It will be a real challenge for me as I have a chattering mind.
    Pray for me. Thank you.

  3. This is beautiful! It reminds me of my summer retreat in 2010 when my spiritual guide told me that in all those years I was kissing the wounds of Jesus in the crucifix everytime I venerate, so why don’t I allow Jesus to kiss my wounds? It truly struck me and just like this one, ‘God’s gaze’, it is a beautiful perspective that leads to healing of our wounded-ness. But even this also needs the work of grace, so do we continue to beg God to grant us the grace to be open to His gaze, that we truly welcome Him as He embrace us with great empathy, acceptance and love.

  4. The dotMagis site is food for my soul.
    It feels like the luxury of living in a community with other Catholics. Everyone has something to say that I need to hear. You make me stronger and my life warmer. You make me realize how close I can be with God, because God is with me. You make me more careful as a sister because my brothers and sisters need me to be.
    Thank you
    I love the lunchtime examen and have suggested it to friends.

    • Barbara,thank you for your comment. It was so moving and heartfelt. I also look forward to these daily reflections. We are all so connected and may God be glorified.


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