Exclusive interview with Chester P. Michael

Chester P. Michael is the co-author of Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types.  The interview was conducted in April 2004.

What gave you and your prayer project the idea to link the Briggs-Myers research with prayer and meditation?

I was introduced to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI] by Morton Kelsey in 1976. Immediately I saw the value of it for prayer and spirituality. I began to use it in all my retreats and individual spiritual direction. My associate, Marie Norrisey, said we should get some scientific proof of the connection between MBTI and prayer. Hence the prayer project of 1982. I canvassed the 800 persons on my mailing list for The Open Door. 500 of them responded.

The introduction to Prayer and Temperament describes the success of your group’s project. Generally, what results have you seen from your project since the book was published?

The good results of [applying MBTI to prayer and meditation] have been shown in the 340 women and men who have graduated from my two year course of training in the Spiritual Directions Institute. I have continued to use it in all my retreat work and spiritual direction work.

What has been the response to Prayer and Temperament?

We have sold more than 120,000 copies of the book worldwide.

What advice would you give someone wishing to explore meditation for the first time?

My advice for those wishing to explore meditation for the first time is to use all four methods of prayer based on the four temperaments. Then use the method that comes most easily for them most of the time. One should expose oneself at least occasionally to the other methods.

Have you enjoyed your retirement? And how have you come to define “retirement”?

For me, retirement means I am now a freelancer. I can can go in any direction in my journey of faith.

What has been the most satisfying part of your service over the years?

I think spiritual direction is the most satisfying part of my 62 years of priestly ministry.