I sometimes want to roll my eyes when reminded that, in times of dryness in prayer, St. Ignatius guides us to double down, expand, and intensify our prayer. (SE 319) In such times, it’s helpful to remember Ignatius’s guidance to “move it!” in prayer.
In the Spiritual Exercises #76, Ignatius talks about the importance of finding the right position for our prayer. We might try kneeling, lying prostrate, lying on our backs, sitting in a chair or on the floor, standing, walking, or pacing. According to David Fleming, SJ’s translation, “the goal is to be at ease, yet attentive, reverent yet relaxed” in prayer. Rather than staying in one place and repeating ourselves every time of prayer, just waiting for God to make a move, we need to do the moving!
For years I resisted the notion of centering prayer, just sitting on the floor, maybe facing a wall. But when I tried it lying prostrate in what yoga practitioners call “child’s pose,” something clicked! My body became a part of the prayer experience.
The beauty of Ignatian spirituality is that it is not “one size fits all.” It is adaptable to the person and the situation. I realized that when I tried different kinds of prayer—whether imagining a scene in the Gospels, lectio divina, singing, centering prayer, or meditation—the experience was completely different if I did each type in a different stance or setting. One type of prayer worked best at my desk or while seated in my easy chair, and another prayer felt more fruitful in my garden or under a tree outside. Holding tactile objects in my hand, like stones, crosses, or mementos, can help to put me in a place of ease and refocus my mind. The permutations of prayer are endless.
Moving our bodies is a signal to our inner spirit of what type of prayer we are going to try today and a reiteration of our commitment not to give up on prayer, but rather to double down on our desire for relationship with God. God is already there waiting for us to find the posture that works for us, so we can be most at ease in our connection with Infinite Love.
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