Praying through Advent: Praying Questions

Advent invites us to embrace the mystery of incarnation—God’s action of dwelling in and among us. Because so much of our faith involves mystery, it can be helpful to acknowledge that and sit with it, even if it is uncomfortable. We can pray with this holy discomfort. We can pray our questions. For this practice I [Read More…]

Praying through Advent: The Daily Examen

This Advent, why not keep your eyes open for evidence of God’s love and action in the world? The motto Jesuits live by is “finding God in all things,” and the way to do that is to examine your own daily life for the activity of the Spirit. Ignatius of Loyola—founder of the Jesuit order [Read More…]

Praying Through Advent: Imagining the Nativity

We began the Advent meditations with the gospel of Luke’s version of the flight of Mary and Joseph from their home while Mary was pregnant. Today we’ll re-enter this story as the time comes for Mary to give birth. Once again, use your imagination to enter the scene. It’s a short passage, so spend time [Read More…]

Praying Through Advent: Prayer of the Heart

Prayer doesn’t have to be all that wordy. Early Christians used to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” to express their deep longing for Jesus to return and be among them in physical reality. This practice is designed to help us create those prayers that are as close to us as our very breath. The beauty of [Read More…]

Praying Through Advent: The Jesus Prayer

As we focus this Advent on the coming of Jesus, why not pray one of the most famous prayers in the history of Christianity—the Jesus Prayer? You will find a version of this prayer in the Gospel of Luke’s story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The tax collector is praised by Jesus for [Read More…]

Praying Through Advent: Write a Psalm

The Psalms are among the most human expressions found in the Bible. Psalms give us confidence that no matter what emotion we are feeling, we can share it with God. In this exercise, you will be invited to write your own Psalm. It doesn’t matter whether you think of yourself as a writer or not. [Read More…]

Praying Through Advent: Dialogue with Scripture

We need not approach biblical texts passively. We can communicate with the stories. We can talk back to them! Today’s Advent meditation is a dialogue with the daily lectionary passage—Matthew’s version of the feeding of the four thousand (Matthew 15:32-37). Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, [Read More…]

Praying Through Advent: Lectio Divina

For many Christians, praying daily with scripture is an important devotional practice. There are a number of ways to do this. One of the easiest and most portable is to use the Irish Jesuit’s Sacred Space 2015 prayer book or website ( They include a short snippet of scripture from the daily lectionary—scriptures chosen to [Read More…]

Praying Through Advent: “Here I Am” prayer

If you find it hard to relax into prayer during Advent, try this contemplative exercise. It’s adapted from Anthony Bloom’s classic book Beginning to Pray. Bloom, a Russian Orthodox Archbishop who died in 2003, wrote this short book in 1970 and it continues to be an inspiration to people of prayer today. [Read more…]

Praying Through Advent: Imagination Prayer

Spiritual Direction 101 seeks to offer spiritual directors–and all others interested in spirituality–tools for deepening in relationship with God. Through Advent, SD101 will offer one prayer practice a day. Most of these practices come from my book 50 Ways to Pray by Abingdon Press. Advent is the perfect time for reflection on the past and the present [Read More…]