Prayer and Temperament

Based on Myers/Briggs Personality Styles

Call to Worship
L: Come! And trust that which brought you here.
P: Come! Riding in on the grace of the wind
L: Come! Floating in on the river that feeds your soul.
P: Come! Walking on the path that unfolds in front of you.
L: Come! And be in this moment, this place; welcoming in the love of living.

"Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying"

Introduction to Prayer and Temperament
Four pairs of preferences:
E - I extroversion - introversion
S - N sensing - intuition
T - F thinking - feeling
J - P judging - perceiving

The first and last pairs are called attitudes because they represent the orientation of the individual in regard to the world.
E – extrovert: stimulated by the outer world of people and things
I – introvert: derives energy from the inner world of ideas, concepts, feelings, and spirit

J – judging: primarily concerned with how things should be.
P – perceiving: primarily concerned with how things are.

The middle pairs of preferences are called functions. They have to do with the method one uses to relate to the world or to oneself.
S – sensing: concentrates on what is available to the senses (visible, audible, etc.)
N – intuitive: concentrates on the inner sense of things

T – thinking: uses the intellect to arrive at a conclusion through reasoning
F – feeling: makes decisions based on how one feels about things

Small Group Reflections
Benedictine Prayer – Lectio Divina
Lectio divina is suitable for all temperaments; it uses all four functions. Bible reading is the base.
1. Lectio (reading) – uses senses in reading or perceiving God's works.
2. Meditatio (meditation) – uses thinking to reflect upon one's reading
3. Oratio (prayer) – uses feeling to personalize insights for communion
4. Contemplation (contemplation) – uses intuition to coalesce reading, meditation, and prayer into new insights

The four steps respond to characteristics of all four temperaments:
1. Reading – SJ: study and search to discover wisdom and direction
2. Reflection – NT: gets answers and practical fruit
3. Prayer – NF + SP: intimacy with God, feelings of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving
4. Contemplation – NF: adapting to one's own situation

Ignatian Prayer and Spirituality – The SJ Temperament
This way of praying was used by Israel 1000 years before Christ. In remembering a salvation event, the people relive, participate in, and symbolically make past events real. All four functions apply, and the structures resemble Lectio Divina. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order, developed this method in the 4th century AD. Casting oneself back into the events of the past, one imagines the scene through all five senses, making the story real and present and becoming part of it. It's important to draw some practical fruit. The Christian Liturgical Year, commemorating events in Jesus' life, especially the Holy Week Liturgy, indicates the popularity of Ignatian Prayer.... SJ's represent 40% of the population and 50% of church attendance. They have a strong sense of duty, and a good imagination. They tend to be pessimistic.

Augustinian Prayer and Spirituality -- The NF Temperament
Named in honor of St. Augustine -- who developed rules of spirituality for the monks and convents in North Africa. The key word is projection, using creative imagination to transpose scripture to today's situation. Especially used by NF's who are usually creative, optimistic, verbal, persuasive, outspoken, writers and speakers; good listeners, counselors, conflict resolvers and peacemakers. Handling negative criticism is difficult for NFs, but they blossom under affirmation. 12% of population. Visionaries. Prayer is a discourse between God and the self.

Fransiscan Prayer and Spirituality -- The SP Temperament
St. Francis (an ESFP?) introduced this type of spirituality in the 13th century. It is characterized by an attitude of openness and willingness to go where the Spirit calls. (38% of population). SP's are impulsive free spirits, often witty and charming. They love action and work best in a crisis. They are good at unsnarling messes, making them good negotiators and diplomats. They tend to be flexible and open-minded, living in the present. They are best at short-range projects, because they need to see results. Centering life in God. Creation is a Bible – every sense is impressionable; Gospels are appealing as another example of the incarnation of God in creation. Appreciate the grand gesture, like St. Francis stripping off his clothes... Although very sacrificial, SP's don't respond well to the symbolic. They usually dislike formal prayer, preferring spirit-filled, impulsive prayer or seeing work, celebration, or enjoying nature, etc. as prayer.

Thomistic Prayer and Spirituality -- The NT Temperament
Recommended by St. Thomas Aquinas and using syllogistic methods of thinking and orderly progression of thought from cause to effect, i.e. rational thinking to arrive at an appropriate conclusion. Based on the rationalism of the West's last four centuries. NT's (12% of the population) have a great thirst for truth and for the freedom that flows from knowing truth. They desire to comprehend, explain, predict and control. The tend to be leaders, and also tend to pursue perfection and see stupidity and incompetence as the worst possible faults. They can be overcritical and are often work-a-holics. They are poor losers -- very competitive. They tend to be impersonal in relationships. NT spirituality is scientific-oriented. May use seven auxiliary questions: "what, why, how, who, where, when, with what helps" to explore the topic at hand (like "faith"). "Metanoia" or conversion is an important result.


"Thuma Mina"

Source: Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types by Michael and Norrisey