How do you picture God in prayer?
What’s your favorite image of God in prayer? By that I mean: when you close your eyes to pray, who or what do you think of? For many people, God is a kind of presence, beside them, or around them, or above them. One terrific way to start your prayer comes from St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. He says that before we begin to pray we should look at the place in which we’re going to be praying—a chair, a place on the floor, a bed, a church pew—and imagine God looking at us there. For a whole minute. After you do that, you’ll find that when you finally sit down, or lie down on kneel down, having imagined God looking at you, it really deepens your prayer. It reminds you who is with you. Some people like to think of Jesus with them while they pray, perhaps sitting next to them, or in a chair across the room. One young Jesuit, who was a pretty outdoorsy type, told me that he likes to think of Jesus and him sitting across a campfire from one another, just talking. A few years ago, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I found a picnic bench I liked to pray at, right by the Sea of Galilee. So that’s where I return to pray sometimes, in my mind. Whatever image of God you have in prayer is fine. Because there’s no one better than the other. Just trust that whatever image you use—God will meet you there.