he First Principle and Foundation articulates the interior freedom necessary in order to follow God’s will. Ponder on its words, as they lead us to consider “putting first things first.” The rest will follow. That is because when our focus is on the Giver and not on the gifts, our lives are ordered in a way to receive the blessings that God has already meant for us. We just have to be ready for them! St. Ignatius offers them at the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises:1

  • Life's Ultimate Purpose

    The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.

  • Everything Is Gift

    All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.

  • To Make Us Loving People

    As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.

  • In God We Trust...Regardless

    In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.

  • Our Ultimate Desire

    Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.

The Suscipe Prayer

If we ultimately desire to follow God’s will, this is a prayer from St. Ignatius that puts our decision making into the right context:

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. Amen.

Prayer of Generosity

At the heart of service to God is the radical generosity that Ignatius asked for in this prayer:

Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will.


  1. Paraphrased by David L. Fleming, S.J.