“Lord, Teach Me To Pray” (LTMTP) is a three-part prayer series, rooted in Ignatian spirituality and designed to help women and men learn how to pray. The three parts are taken in succession. Each part is a prerequisite for the next part.
Part I, Praying Christian Virtues (12 weeks), introduces Ignatian prayer and spirituality in the way that St. Ignatius himself introduced people; i.e., by structuring their initial prayer experience around the Christian Virtues. Part 1 is conducted in a small group experience with two trained facilitators. Each group will meet for two hours once a week for prayer, faith sharing and introduction to the methods of Ignatian prayer. Everyone will receive Scriptures on the virtues to use daily at home for 15 minutes of private prayer.
Part 2, My 19th Annotation (30 weeks), consists of the entirety of the well-known “Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius”. The title of this part of the series refers to the 19th note that St. Ignatius wrote in his notebook. In this note he wrote that a person taken up with “public affairs or suitable business” and unable to withdraw from the world for prayer may experience the prayer of the Spiritual Exercises in his daily life. Pt. 2 is conducted in a small group experience with two trained facilitators. Each group will meet for two hours once a week for prayer, faith sharing and will receive material on the Spiritual Exercises and Scriptures to use for their private prayer of 30-45 minutes daily. Pt. 2 is 30 weeks which are divided into two 15 week semesters with a month break in the middle.
Part 3 Discernment and Gifts of the Spirit (14 weeks), provides a general theological catechesis of the Holy Spirit with emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, followed by an introduction to St. Ignatius’ Rules for Discernment. Pt. 3 is conducted in a small group experience with two trained facilitators. Each group will meet for two hours once a week for prayer, faith sharing, and will receive material on the Holy Spirit, St. Ignatius’ Rules for Discernment along with Scriptures for their private prayer of 1 hour.
Ignatian Prayer has been in existence for almost 500 years, and it is said by some that the Spiritual Exercises were given to St. Ignatius by the Blessed Mother herself. As such, the Exercises have an integrity that has been safeguarded throughout the centuries by Jesuits and non-Jesuits alike. The Exercises have shaped the spirituality of countless children of God including numerous saints, drawing them into, and guiding them into, a very deep intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus (with the entire Triune God).
The foundational material utilized in any Ignatian-based prayer series is the notebook of St. Ignatius himself which today we call the Spiritual Exercises. As such, St. Ignatius is, in reality, the primary writer of the heart of the “Lord Teach Me To Pray” series (Part II), even in cases where the material from the Exercises are presented through the explanations, interpretations or creative adaptations of spiritual writers who came after him. One could, however, imagine St. Ignatius asserting that the Holy Spirit, speaking through the holy vessel of the Blessed Mother, is indeed the true “author”.
The facilitators of the series are not teachers or spiritual directors; rather, they themselves are “pray-ers” who, no matter how many times they facilitate the series, pray the assigned material throughout the week just as the other participants do. The facilitators are trained in the basic skills needed to simply “make easy” the entrance of each participant into this most beautiful way of prayer. The facilitators’ main responsibility is to allow for the space within the group that the Holy Spirit needs to direct each person’s journey. As the facilitators safeguard this space, the prayer itself opens the heart of each participant to a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ who will, as the title of the series clearly suggests, lovingly and gently do the “teaching”.
The Lord, Teach Me To Pray series was submitted to the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) Publishing Office for approval and to receive the copyright permissions needed to publish excerpts from the New American Bible (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) and theCatechism of the Catholic Church. The approval process included a complete review of the LTMTP text by the Subcommittee on the Catechism to assure its consistency with the Catechism. At the successful conclusion of that review, LTMTP was granted copyright permissions to publish excerpts from both publications.
It is very inspiring to hear the reactions from some of the participants:
LTMTP is leading me to open myself up to God in a new way. I feel cracks in the shell I have built around myself. My relationship with God is strengthening. I am finding new ways of breaking through stumbling blocks that prevented me from becoming closer to God in my past. It is revitalizing my love for God.
LTMTP helps me and to me is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: “Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints.”
I was surprised to find a sense of relief, partly in that I’m not struggling on what to do with my prayer time, and how I should be most effective. Instead, I’m following a path set by a saint and trying to do so obediently. I have some mornings, where nothing much is felt, but I just spend time in silence with God. Other times have been particularly moving, especially after the scripture readings, when I dialogue with our Lord. I’ve also noticed a much stronger sense of peace and calm. I’m going through some events that I know would be causing me a lot of grief if they were happening in the past. However, at the moment, I may not know what lies ahead, but I feel a stronger trust that things will be OK.
It is a daily, scheduled time with God in prayer and scripture. The scripture provides light on my life path and prayer allows my heart to listen, love and respond to God in love.
LTMTP is increasing my awareness to how I pray, what I say and think about during my prayer time, and how I interpret messages from God. LTMTP is a journey.
Having just started this class I am finding a difference in the way I pray, but more about how I hear the Gospels - an enlightening experience for me guided by the Holy Spirit.
Even our own priests have experienced something new with LTMTP:
I find it helps me to try to understand what Jesus is saying to me. The Word is spoken to me personally. I am used to studying the Word to see how it applies to others, but this is between God & me. It’s helping me to better get to know God. Msgr. Healy
This is the first group that I have ever been in that is only about prayer, not the prayer we do together, but 15 minutes each us of prays every day. The Lord is teaching us to pray. Fr. Randy