Forty Weeks ~ Sacred Story
Week 5 Prayer Exercises
Encouragements & Wisdom
In addition to this week’s prayer materials, there are Encouragements and Wisdom (PDF).
Wisdom from the Sacred Story Community
In addition to this week’s Encouragements and Wisdom, the Sacred Story Community offers their wisdom to this question: What advice would you give “to a person like yourself” to encourage them to continue Sacred Story at this point in the yearlong prayer journey? Wisdom from the Sacred Story Community, Week 5 (PDF). You can also View Wisdom from the Sacred Story Community, Week 5 as a webpage.
Listening to Your History
1 I select my 15-minute quiet time(s) for the week ahead. I visualize where I will go each day and at what time(s). I ask God for the grace to make those appointments throughout the week, in a technology-free zone.
2 From this point forward, I will bring my notebook to my prayer sessions for the remainder of the forty weeks.
3 My 15-minute prayer times this week consist of two exercises:
1. I ask for the inspiration to discover the name of God that speaks directly to my heart. It can take two or more days to discover the name that unlocks my heart to God’s love and mercy. If God does not inspire me in the first two days, I will set this exercise aside and move to the second exercise.
But I will continue to ask for the inspiration for the rest of the week to find the name. I will thank God in advance, because God will give me the inspiration I need to reveal the name that speaks to my heart. I will thank God in advance for this important grace.
2. For the remainder of the week, I listen to the three parts of Ignatius’ conversion story in light of my own story. A simple spiritual reflection associated with this exercised is described below.
I will not read ahead.
I will awaken to the present moment.
I will take each day and each exercise as it comes.
I cannot do Sacred Story better by going faster.
I will ask God to help me.
Read this at the beginning of the week
Take a moment to ask God for this grace: “Lord, open me to the knowledge of my own heart.” For the heart is where the important work of prayer takes place. The mind reveals facts. The heart reveals the truth of my being. The heart is how Scripture describes the most important aspects of the human condition. Here are a few examples:
- The heart reveals the state of corruption caused by sin (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9-10; Mt 15:9).1
- The heart is where the process of conversion and forgiveness takes place (Ez 36:26; Mt 18:35; Rom 2:29).
- The heart is the point of convergence, where self-condemnation comes face-to-face with hope in God’s power (1 Jn 3:19-20).
- The heart’s purity enables one to sees God (Mt 5:8).
- The heart is the locus of compassion (Lk 7:13).
- The heart is the custodian of memory and contemplation (Lk 1:29; 2:19, 51).
- The heart is the vessel holding the secrets that illuminate the true meaning of life (Mt 6:21; Lk 24:32; Ps 85:9).
- The heart is defined as the center of human consciousness and action, wherein God discerns the rightness or wrongness of my thoughts, words, and deeds. The heart is the center from which each person will stand before God and render the ultimate account of their thoughts, words, and deeds (Heb 4:12-13).
- The heart perceives love as the ultimate end, gift, and purpose of being (1 Cor 13).
- The testimony of Christ in Scripture speaks to the heart’s desire for innocence, based on the weariness of life, and the burdens it carries resulting from corruption (Mt 11:28-30).
- Christ also promises to respond to the heart searching for Him, and gives the conviction that He can be found by those who seek Him (Lk 11:9-11).
Seek knowledge of the heart and ask God for the grace to open a pathway to your heart. Seek also knowledge of God’s heart, present in Christ’s Sacred Heart. This grace will help to unite your heart to the heart of Christ. “Lord, open me to the knowledge of my heart.”
I will allow two days of my 15-minute prayers periods for this spiritual exercise.
Once you are settled in your place of prayer, ask for God’s inspiration for this time. Then ask, in words from your heart, to be inspired to discover or remember the most intimate and/or meaningful name for God the Father, Son and Spirit that you have used in prayer.
The name will resonate deeply in your heart and reflect God’s relationship to you and your personal relationship with God. The following may be helpful:
Merciful Father, Loving Father, Almighty Father, Our Father, Father God, Loving Creator, Creator God, God of Love, My God, Holy God, Father of the Poor, God of All Mercy, God of All Compassion, Father of Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus, Christ Jesus, Dear Jesus, Adorable Jesus, Adorable Christ, Good Jesus, Jesus, Merciful Savior, Jesus My Savior, Son of God, Dearest Lord, My Lord, My Lord and My God, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lamb of God, Good Shepherd, Crucified Savior, Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus, Spirit of the Lord, Loving Spirit, Holy Spirit of God, Love of God, Divine Spirit, Creator Spirit, Creator God.
Ask for the grace to discover the name for God that touches your heart most intimately. You will know the right name because it has the power to unlock your trust and your love, and to stir your affections.
Write the name for God in your notebook when you discover it. From this point forward, use this name when you address God. God delights when you to speak directly from your heart.2
For the remainder of my 15-minute prayer periods this week
Review Ignatius’ story and your own: Use this question as the focus for these exercises: “Like Ignatius, have I discovered the one area of my life that convinces me, beyond any doubt, that I cannot save myself, and must rely on God to save me?”
Recall the two parts of St. Ignatius’ Sacred Story narrative. In your prayer times review the sections of his story that resonate with your own story. In these prayer periods, recall those parts of his story that moved your heart in one of two ways:
1). What spontaneously evoked anxiety in me as I listened to Ignatius’ story? I will reflect on why my anxiety was provoked. In my notebook, I will record what evoked my anxiety and why.
2). As I listened to Ignatius’ conversion story, what inspired or gave me hope about my life? I will reflect on why I was inspired or hopeful. In my notebook I will record what inspired me and why.
For my last fifteen minute prayer period at week’s end
I will use my notebook jottings for my prayer text today. As I sift through the entries I ask for the grace to identify the one issue or idea that caused me the most anxiety. I record this in my notebook. Then I will write down why I felt the anxiety. (I may not know why something causes anxiety so if it is not clear yet, I will not be anxious). I will invite God into this unknown area: “Lord, why did this make me anxious?”
In my notebook I also record what I discovered that caused me the most hope or inspiration and why. If I don’t know, I will invite God to reveal this to me by praying: “Lord, why did this cause me hope?”
I will be brief, and specific in my notebook entries. My reflection plus my writing exercises ought not to extend beyond the allotted time of 15-minutes that encompass my prayer period.3
I am starting a Relationship that will carry me
for the rest of my life.
All relationships require time and patience.
I will strive for patience and ask for God’s help
when I don’t understand a lesson.
I will learn the fundamentals and open my heart to God.
I trust that God will lead me.
I believe that my Sacred Story will unfold in truth,
in powerlessness and with my patience.
I believe that Jesus awaits me with His
grace, mercy and forgiving love.
1 There is no need to read the Scripture passages during your 15-minute prayer periods. If your heart leads you to read these Scripture passages apart from the 15-minute prayer periods, you are encouraged to follow your heart!
2 A suggestion: Use this name to address God every time you naturally think of God throughout the day. For example, you may say in your heart before a meeting: “Lord Jesus, be with me now.” Say it, and then just move on with your meeting. Do not make this a tedious exercise, but one that feels natural and relaxed. You do not have to think long and hard about God. The purpose of this spontaneous prayer is just a short, friendly reminder of God’s presence. Use this name if you find yourself conversing with God during the day.
3 Ignatius is very specific that spiritual exercises should be kept to the exact time allotted for them. The only exception he makes is that an exercise may be extended by one minute if one is having difficulty, or is experiencing some upset or turmoil. Ignatius believed that this brief extension of an exercise in times of difficulty works positively to help us confront and not be cowed by spirits of darkness and the psychological and emotional anxieties they manipulate.