Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the kinds of experiences that can happen in prayer, which is often a source of confusion for even devout Christians. Many people wonder: What happens when I close my eyes? Or, what is supposed to happen? Well, one of the most common experiences is the revelation of desires. And I don’t mean mere surface desires and wants like “I want a new laptop” or “I want a new car” or “I want a new apartment.” No, I mean deeper desires, the longings that draw you closer to God, and help you become the person God means for you to be.
For example, you might be praying about a Gospel passage and suddenly feel an urge to follow Jesus more closely. That is, while praying you may experience a powerful attraction to the person of Jesus. You want to know more about him, read more about him, and spend more time praying about him. Where do these desires come from? From God. Now, not every desire that arises in prayer is from God. You have to discern, too, to see what makes sense and what fits in terms of what you know about God. But something like a desire to follow Christ is clearly coming from God. St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits would agree. After all, he sometimes asked people to pray an unusual prayer: a prayer to understand their deepest desires.