When meeting with a spiritual director, they may ask you what it is you desire most in life. That’s because our deepest, truest desires are one way God reaches out to us to say, “walk in this way.” Because of this, I recommend the Desire Prayer as a spiritual practice.
The Desire Prayer
The “Desire Prayer” is one of my favorite practices because it allows us to get our desires before God openly, unabashedly, and with feeling. In this prayer you use all your senses to create — in your imagination — a scene that depicts what you desire, and you pray in and through that desire.
This type of prayer is found in The Isaiah Effect, a book by Gregg Braden. He calls it “David’s Prayer,” named after a Native American friend who introduced him to the idea of surrounding yourself with your deepest desire and offering it to the Creator. David took him into the drought-ridden desert Southwest to, as he put it, “pray rain.”[i] Not pray for rain, but to enter into a way of prayer which leads him to feel, touch, taste, smell and see what he believes the land needs most — rain. And after doing that, David leaves the outcome up to the Creator. Braden, a student of quantum physics, contends that aligning ourselves, in gratitude, with our deepest desire and then feeling what it is like to have the desire fulfilled, is action that catalyzes change in the world.
Celtic Desire Prayer
In a Celtic version of this practice, found in Tanis Helliwell’s Take Your Soul to Work, you do much the same.[ii] And, you leave the outcome to God. Most importantly, Helliwell adds another crucial step. Asking God how you can assist in fulfilling this desire and then watching for opportunities to do just that.
- Begin by taking a few moments to become calm. Say a prayer of gratitude for all that has been, all that is, and all that will be in your life.
- Let your heart’s deepest desire be stated before God. Take a few moments in silence to see if the desire remains the same or if you want to state it in a different way.
- Visualize your desire. Feel it. Touch it. Taste it. Smell it. Let it become real to you in your imagination. Linger there and see how the scene depicting your desire develops or changes. Stay with this step for several minutes.
- Let go of specific outcomes. Ask that God’s desire be fulfilled in your desire, or that God will transform your desire as needed. Notice what, if anything, changes as a result of that request.
- Ask God how you might assist in fulfilling this desire. Stay in silence as you allow space for God to speak in and through your imagination.
- Close by thanking God for this desire and for the opportunity to pray in and through it. Thank God for being present in this prayer.
- Spend a few moments right after the prayer reflecting on how it was to pray with a desire. What surprised you? Moved you? Inspired you? What disturbed you? How did you feel God’s presence in the midst of this prayer? Did anything about your desire change as you prayed it?
- In the days following this prayer, be aware of ways God may be offering you opportunities to live into the desire. When they do, take prayerful action and don’t forget to thank God for the opportunities and eyes to see them.
It is easy to get caught up in our desires and become overly self-concerned. So this prayer can help us let go of our desires by handing them over to God. Use this prayer when you have a desire that persists and feels important. And, use this prayer to visualize and catalyze peace in the world.
Looking for More?
If you like this prayer and are looking for even more ways to pray, you might enjoy my book, “50 Ways to Pray,” from Abingdon Press. You’ll find this prayer and 49 others to experiment with.
Want to try spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees — regardless of where you live. I can work by phone, Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net.
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[i] You can find this wonderful story in The Isaiah Effect (Three Rivers Press, 2000) pp. 160-173.
[ii] Take Your Soul To Work, Tanis Helliwell (Adams Media, 1999) pp. 299-300.