- Today’s prayer invites us to ask for the gift of gratitude. God has no need of our praise or thanks and does not demand it as the condition of blessing us. Gratitude is God’s gift to us, as it helps us to experience ourselves as living the risen life in Jesus every day.
- We come into this time of prayer asking for the gift of stillness. Listen to all the sounds outside you and gradually let them fade out until you become aware of your own breathing and the sense of your body relaxing and becoming still.
- Hand over any tension and anxiety to God for this time.
- Listen to these words of Scripture from the gospel of John:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
- In Eastern Orthodox icons of Jesus descending into Hell, he is depicted standing on the gates of hell, which he has burst open and flattened. He tramples on a collection of locks, chains and keys as he pulls Adam and Eve out from the darkness of death into new life.
- The chains symbolize the toxic and death-dealing attitudes and patterns of thought and behaviour with which we can bind ourselves. They are deadly to us, convincing us that there is no way out.
- Salvation is not an exercise in self-help. Only the love and grace of Jesus can save us from ourselves. Jesus is first and foremost a liberator who reaches into the tombs we build for ourselves to pull us out, but this is a lifelong process. It means learning to trust in the love Jesus has for us. This is what frees us from all that imprisons us. Only then can we truly live our lives in God’s service.
- You may like to look at one of these icons following the link on the Pray As You Go website. Or you can listen to these words of Scripture from the gospel of John 15:9-17
- Ignatius tells us that humility is the key to knowing the grace of God in our lives. We experience grace as God’s gift to us, not as something we have earned. The heart of humility is gratitude, not self-hatred. Recognizing all our gifts and talents as God’s gift to us for the world leads us to offer all that we have and are for God’s service.
- Think of the gifts and talents that you have. What are you most grateful for?
- Think of them as given to you for the spreading of the kingdom preached by Jesus. Can you hear God’s invitation to you to spend your life for the kingdom? Perhaps desires or praise comes to your mind. Speak your mind and heart to God as we end this prayer time.