Praying with St. Ignatius

St. Ignatius Loyola sitting at his desk
July 31 is the feast day of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), and a man whose life was dedicated to introducing people to Jesus and encouraging their conversations with him—their prayer. So let’s approach this post with a focus on Ignatian prayer.

First I want to point out that the Society of Jesus was the first religious order to move away from the practice of praying the Divine Hours. That is, they did not come together as a community several times a day to pray together. From the beginning, their idea was to be out in the world doing all kinds of evangelistic work, and they didn’t want to be pulled from that work back to a monastery every few hours. You might think of Ignatian prayer as prayer on the move.

However, the Jesuits used a portable prayer form called the Examen. This is simply a prayerful review of the day or of the past few hours. It doesn’t take long, and you can do it anytime and anywhere (many Jesuits do it at noon and evening), but it can readjust your soul in the midst of whatever is going on. You review in order to express gratitude for where God has been present and to ask for help in matters that aren’t going so well.

St. Ignatius also stressed that we should have a personal relationship with Jesus, getting to know him through the Gospel accounts of his life and praying to him directly. In a number of the prayers in Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, the person praying is encouraged to pray with Jesus in a conversational way.

And St. Ignatius discovered through his own long conversion and spiritual formation that the Holy Spirit will work through a person’s imagination during prayer. He had learned to trust this process as he daydreamed and reflected and prayed. He also discovered a lot about discernment that, centuries later, psychologists and pastors affirm as wise and practical.

If you were to describe your own prayer spirituality—in 50 words or less—what would that description include?


  1. My prayer spirituality involves a lot of listening, quieting down, being present. St. Ignatius of Loyola taught me to question my faith (i never thought it was possible) and bring my reasoning self along to my prayer time with God. The journey of self-awareness is heroism in action.

  2. Before I thought that the best way to be closer to God was to do the Divine Hours, to go on recollection every month, and to go on retreat every year. It was so constricting to say the least.

    Then I was introduced to the Ignatian way by a beloved Jesuit, and there was no turning back.

    The Examen has helped me a lot. No longer was I confined to the rote prayers I was taught as a child but a one-on-one “talk” with God suits me fine. I want to have this kind of relationship with Him. No ifs, no buts but just LOVE.

    St. Ignatius, pray for us!

  3. My husband’s birthday is 31 July. Perhaps you will pray for him please. He got told 4 was ag, the place he works is closing down -he would have hoped to be able to continue to 65yrs. Trying to trust in God about this without worrying unduly.

  4. I love praying the Ignatius way although I don’t know if I am doing it correctly. My examens is usually at the end of the day unless I see that I am falling often during the day and then it is more often.
    I am often in the car so that has become my chapel. I can find God in all things as I reflect on the sky, clouds, trees and other drivers.
    Others times of the day I use my senses to feel God as I walk, cook…

  5. I pray during, and after, reading scripture. I am currently reading Judges, chapter by chapter, and I reflect, then pray, about the reading. I am also given to praying “help, help, help” at various times of day (and night). The Examen is full of richness and depth.

  6. My Spirituality? Ignatian with a twist. I pray the examen first thing in the morning. Not noon or evening as taught by gu;rus of Ignatian Spirituality. Morning. I begin by thanking God for a brand new day. Surprise me Lord today. I then ask for a specific grace. For example, wisdom, guidance and clarity on serving my 27 year old daughter who still lives at home. I then ask, “What was I most grateful for yesterday?” The grace I experienced from the talk of Bo Sanzhez in the FEAST where Bo spoke of scars. What is my scar? My eldest daughter committed suicide. Scar that hurts to this day. There I learned about God’s love through Fr. James Reuther telling me that for mortal sin three things are needed. Grievous matter (check) sufficient reflection (check) and full consent (Fr. Reuther said if a person is depressed, She is so sick she no longer has control of her self (so no to third requirement for mortal sin). And I’ve learned to know His love intimately daily. I believe Yanee is in heaven and will greet me when mly own time comes. So I ask Yanee to pray and intercede for me. Then I ask “what am I least grateful for yesterday?” The cuchinillo fiasco where I waited more than 2 hours. But even even there, I believe the Holy Spirit guided me through each step. I got angry but not without love.I then listen to Him. Speak Lord. Sometimes He speaks. Or I just experience His Love…I hug myself and say “I am totally, perfectly, competely loved.” And I feel His embrace. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes or less. Sometimes I just lose track of time, and end with the Suscipe. Take and receive O Lord, my liberty..This is my spirituality. Ignatian with a twist. Morning Examen tau;ght by Bro. Raymond Callo, an amazing Salesian Brother.

  7. I cannot express in words how much St Ignatius and his spiritual exercises have affected my life. On his birthday I give thanks to the Lord for such a wonderful model.

  8. It is nice to pray today the last day of july also celebrate by praying for guidancefrom st.ignatius. i like the idea of prayer on the go. Lately i have bee. Praying serenity prayer hail mary our farther glory be for 10 minutes and then meditate for 20 min and then repeat prayer for 10.


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