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Praying Over the Ten Commandments


This is a very easy and profitable form of prayer which helps us to purification of heart -- which is the foundation on which all prayer or growth in the spiritual life is built.


It consists in spending about a minute on each of the Ten Commandments (you will find them in Exodus, chapter 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy, chapter 5: 6-21), reflecting on their meaning and goal, and on your own observance of them.


This is not just an examination of conscience or inventory of sins committed. It can be that also, of course, but the goal is to come to a deeper appreciation of the spirit behind each commandment: what desire in God's heart is expressed in this commandment? To what state of mind and heart is the observance of this commandment meant to lead us? How could you sin against the spirit of the commandment, even though you kept the letter of the law?


For example, the First Commandment says, "I am the Lord, your God. You shall not have other gods besides me." Granted that you have never worshipped an idol, what competes with God in your life? What keeps God from being All to you? Is Jesus the "Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" in your desires, your planning, your priorities? (See Revelation 22:13)


Or, "You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain": Aside from cursing (worth looking into, nonetheless!), how have you shown disrespect for anything or anyone that bears God's name, reflects His beauty, is created in His image? What about reverence in church and outside of church for all persons and things? Does your language, your dress, your behavior, your body language express this reverence?


In this prayer you can dwell on any one Commandment as long as you are getting thoughts about it or feeling devotion. But if you begin to get distracted, or no thoughts come within a minute or so, move to the next one. (If you see that you have fallen short in your observance of any Commandment, you might say an Our Father before moving to the next, just to ask pardon and help for the future. (See The Spiritual Exercises, "First Method of Prayer." This method can be used on the Commandments, on the seven Capital Sins, on the on the way you use your five senses or your powers of memory, imagination, intellect and will, etc. It can also be used to pray over the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: see Isaiah 11:2-3 and Galatians 5:22-23).


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