What to pray for when you don't know what to do next

What comes next? Photo by Niklas Friedwall, Flickr

Where do you turn when you don't know what to write your next blog post on? To a classic Ignatian prayer about discernment, of course.


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
-- St. Ignatius of Loyola

I had never heard of this prayer before coming across it on Facebook one day, and I immediately filed it away in my "Blog Post Inspiration" folder (for yes, I do have such a folder) for future noodling.

At first reading, I interpreted it as a prayer of thanksgiving -- a saint-backed example of what you pray for when life is good. But then I did a little research about it, and I learned that it's part of St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises, a four-stage process designed to deepen people's experience of God in their daily lives.

In particular, the Suscipe -- which translates from Latin as "take," the opening word -- prepares the pray-er for discernment. What's discernment? Check out this article's explanation:

"The Catholic spiritual tradition calls decision making “discernment.” The word implies not coming up with a new idea completely out of our own creativity, but clarifying things so that we can see and understand something that’s already in place: what God wants us to do."

I like this explanation because it maintains how each of us has free will to choose our path, and that there is no preordained plan about what that path will be. Rather, putting ourselves in the mindset of the Suscipe achieves two seemingly contradictory goals: It liberates us from our own preconcieved options while it also deepens our responsibility to mull over any routes that maybe we ignored, feared, and didn't even recognize before.

So, while I doubt the Higher Being is overly concerned right now with the contents of my blog post, I do like to think I've taken one baby step toward venturing farther into the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises so that when the time comes for discernment beyond the scope of a blog topic, I'll be ready.

Prayer #290: Suscipe, Inverted

You took, Lord, and recieved all my demands,
my complaints, my discomfort with mystery,
my entire willful spirit,
all I grip and refuse to release.

I forget you've given all to me.
To you, Lord, I owe credit.

Everything should be yours; I'll do with that what I will.
But give me (please) your love and grace anyway,
So I learn it is enough.