In 2004-2005, Antoinette, a classmate and I directed each other through the Spiritual Exercises during the Supervised Daily Life Workshop segment of the Spiritual Direction formation program. We met weekly to share our prayer experiences, ‘changing hats’ midway through the two-hour sessions.

I do not find that spontaneous vocal prayer comes easily. Because my companion worked and I was at home, I had more free time for preparation than she did. I also love to write. Prior to most of our meetings, I prepared a prayer which we read aloud together before we began our exchange. Sometimes, the perfect prayer or meditation jumped off the pages of a book I was reading and that became our opening prayer.

I still follow the same technique. Before meeting with a directee, I either search for an appropriate prayer written by one or another of my favourite spiritual authors or write an ‘opening’ prayer which we read together.

It has been suggested to me that I share some of the ‘home made’ prayers with others who may not find praying aloud without preparation as simple as most people seem to.

Because the same wording was often repeated, I have made some slight changes to the original prayers.

In the process of making the Spiritual Exercises we all pray with the same Scipture passages, but we are touched in many different ways. Each of us may, in fact, respond differently to the same passage each time we read it or hear it.

The following prayers encapsulate my reactions to some of the Bible passages that took me through the Spiritual Exercises process six years ago.

Barbara d’Artois
August 2011

Prayer for the First Meeting

First Meeting

Father, as we begin our journey through the Spiritual Exercises and seek to know your will and to work towards becoming the persons you are calling us to be, we ask you to be with us and to guide us. Please send your Spirit to bestow on us the gifts of wisdom, understanding and acceptance of your will; the courage to persevere when the going is rough; and an eagerness to answer your every call.
Please bless our time together and bless our daily prayer time over the coming week.
Help us to grow closer to your Son Jesus - ‘to know him more clearly, to love him more dearly and to follow him more nearly.’
May we become more and more grateful for all the gifts you have showered upon us.
We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for the Second Meeting

Second Meeting

Father, please bless our time together as we share our prayer experience over the past week. May we come to a deeper understanding of the wonder of your Creation and the role that we as human beings are called to play in the preservation of our natural world.
We praise you, we bless you, we reverence you and we stand in awe before you, Almighty Father. We thank you for the gift of life; for the many gifts of Creation which nourish our bodies and souls; and for the trust you have placed in us by making us stewards of our natural world.
Help us, Father, to savour the beauty and fruits of the earth without being unduly attached to the things we most enjoy or to worldly possessions.
May we never serve you or others with mediocrity, but strive always to fulfill the plan you had for us at the moment of our conception.
All this we ask through your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Prayer for the Third Meeting

Third Meeting

Father, once again we thank you for bringing us together for this time of sharing and of exploring the meaning of our prayer experience. We have reflected on the awful-ness of the banishment of Adam and Eve, whose sin of pride led to their exile from the Garden of Eden, where they had walked with you and grown close to you; and of persons whose lifelong selfishness and unconcern for others merited the loss of your loving presence for all time.
We are awe-filled by the knowledge that despite the many times we have said “NO” to you, you truly want us to be with you in your Kingdom forever.
Because your beloved Son, Jesus, died on the cross to save us, you give us ‘another’ chance ... again and again and again. Father, we thank you for your unconditional love and acceptance of us just as we are; for all the times your Spirit calls us to repentance; and for your ongoing forgiveness.
Please help us to be more sensitive to the wiles of the Evil One who tries to draw us away from you; to be open to hear your every call to serve you and others; and to be ever ready to answer, “Here I am. Lord. I come to do your will.” Amen.

Prayer for the Fifth Meeting

Fifth Meeting

Father, you have called us to become increasingly aware of the evil that permeates our world and of the devastating effects of sin on innocent people. Over the past week, you have given us a deeper understanding of the ways in which we have failed you and those whom we are called to serve, and of how in your goodness, you have continued to bless us despite our unworthiness.
We thank you, Father, for this opportunity to be led by St. Ignatius through some of the prayer experiences that changed
his life and deepened his relationship with you. May we be increasingly open to hearing your personal message to each of us.
Thank you for bringing us together to share the ways in which our hearts have been touched as we have read and meditated on the week’s Scriptural passages. Your Word is no less meaningful in our contemporary world than it was 2,000 years ago and more. Please send your Spirit to guide us as we listen to each other and together, search for new meaning in your call to us to become holy as your are holy.
Bless our time together, Lord, and show us the changes we need to make in our lives so that we may become the persons you are calling us to be. Amen.