Dangerous praying

Updated: Sep 30


We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.


Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.


This insight into life with God comes from a classic work of Christian devotion: Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius Loyola.


In order to better appreciate Loyola's remarks, it is helpful to know a little about his life.



He was born Iñigo Lopez de Loyola, to a noble and wealthy Basque family, and sent to the Spanish court to become a page. He embraced court life with enthusiasm, learning weapons, gambling, and courtly love—he was "a man given to the vanities of the world," he later wrote in his autobiography, "whose chief delight consisted in martial exercises, with a great and vain desire to win renown."


In a battle with the French for the town of Pamplona, Spain, he was hit by a cannon ball the size of a fist. The five-foot-two-inch Iñigo was helped back to Loyola by French soldiers (who admired his courage). He underwent surgeries to reset his right knee and remove a protruding bone. For seven weeks he lay in bed recuperating.


During this time, he began reading spiritual books and accounts of the exploits of Dominic and Francis. In one book by a Cistercian monk, the spiritual life was conceived as one of holy chivalry; the idea fascinated Iñigo. During his convalescence he received spiritual visions, so that by the time he recuperated, he had resolved to live a life of austerity to do penance for his sins.


You can read more about Loyola at the Christian History website:


We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.


Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.



I first ran across Loyola's insight five or six years ago. I've been thinking about it, off and on, ever since. Loyola's life was forever changed by the serious wound that he received in battle. He came to realize that God often uses the trials and tribulations we go through to draw us closer to himself.


Which leads to some questions: How should this shape my prayers for myself? How should this change the way that I pray for my family? The same goes for my brothers and sisters in Christ.


Be careful. Loyola's insight can lead to some very dangerous prayers.


Let it be so.


Amen.


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