If It Doesn’t Work, Don’t Use It

books on prayerOne of the ways I know a spiritual director is good is if they give me a suggestion for prayer and then tell me that if it isn’t helpful or fruitful, to throw it out. This part of Ignatian spirituality allows for the Spirit to move and work with each individual uniquely. Saint Ignatius when discussing material things says we should only choose “what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created,” that is, glorifying God. This goes hand in hand with our vocation and our spiritual life as well.

The Spiritual Exercises in writing was composed by Ignatius as a guide for spiritual directors leading their directees in prayer and contemplation. In it he wants to ensure directors are not afraid to allow for variations in the Exercises depending on the state of the person praying, what might be happening in prayer, and even the person’s abilities (perhaps rest is more beneficial than a midnight meditation for an individual). Even in the Jesuit Constitutions, Saint Ignatius’ recommendations for Jesuits’ ministry and formation gives room for exceptions for “what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.”

For many of you visiting this blog, you are seeking a richer prayer life and relationship with God. You are seeking meaning or new ways of understanding the divine. The spiritual practices mentioned in this blog certainly don’t work for everyone. If it doesn’t work, don’t use it. The great thing about Ignatian spirituality, and Catholic/Christian spirituality in general, is that there are thousands of ways to tap into the divine. The Prayer Resources page has a number of different methods of prayer, from silence to imaginative to liturgical. The intent is for you not to get caught up on one method or another but rather to experiment and discover what speaks to you. God will meet you there.

Listen to an audio version of this post…

Music by Kevin MacLeod

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