How to Pray Your Desire
You’re watching the news, horrified at some violent or oppressive situation, and want to pray in a way that honors what you are feeling and empowers you to believe in change. Or maybe your spiritual direction client has asked for a new practice to get them through this difficult time. Why not try what I call the desire prayer?
This is one of my favorite prayers because it allows us to get our desires before God - or however you refer to the ground of all being - openly, unabashedly and with feeling. That’s because 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.
I first discovered this type of prayer 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. In David’s prayer, David is in the drought-ridden desert Southwest and he intends to, as he puts it, “pray rain.” Not pray for rain, but to enter into a way of prayer in which his gratitude for all of creation leads him to feel, touch, taste, smell and see what he believes the land needs most—rain. 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 most fervent desire and then deeply feeling what it is like to have the desire fulfilled, is action that catalyzes change in the world. With this prayer, you can “pray peace.”
A Celtic version of this practice, found in Tanis Helliwell’s Take Your Soul to Work, does much the same. Helliwell adds an important step, though—asking God how you can assist in fulfilling this desire and then watching for opportunities to do just that.
My version is a blend, and it could be used as a guided meditation in spiritual direction.
- 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, perhaps journaling 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 looking for ways God may be offering you opportunities to live into the desire. When they appear, take prayerful action and don’t forget to thank God for the opportunities and eyes to see them.
Editor's note: This prayer comes from Teresa's book from Abingdon Press: 50 Ways to Pray .
 You can find this wonderful story in The Isaiah Effect (Three Rivers Press, 2000) pp. 160-173.
 Take Your Soul to Work, Tanis Helliwell (Adams Media, 1999) pp. 299-300.
Teresa Blythe is the Director of the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction in Tucson; a full-time spiritual director and discernment coach; and author of a number of books on spirituality. Her latest is Spiritual Direction 101: The Basics of Spiritual Guidance from Apocryphile Press. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.