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IMAGINATIVE PRAYER

IMAGINATIVE PRAYER

Seven Spiritual Practices for Busy People

For these past weeks we have talked about the challenge of keeping our priorities straight in a busy world, and how the main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing.  David has been our example of “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) who made spending time with God his number one priority;  

One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple (Psalm 27:4).  

The “one thing” above every other thing David pursued was to live daily in God’s presence and beauty.  Up to this point we have looked at five spiritual practices that I have found helpful in living each day in the awareness of God’s presence:

  1. The Daily God Hunt

  2. Palms Down/Palms Up

  3. Praying Scripture

  4. Prayer Walking

  5. Unplugging

Today I want to commend to you a spiritual practice that many people find to be spiritually refreshing, and helpful as well, in keeping other spiritual practices: IMAGINATIVE PRAYER.  

PRACTICE SIX: IMAGINATIVE PRAYER

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Psalm 63:1-2

The psalmist David says that he “looked” upon God in the wilderness and saw Him, as he had seen Him in the sanctuary.  As David had bowed in rapt adoration in the rustic tent tabernacle and beheld God’s “power and glory”, so he saw Him in “a dry and weary land”.  And if like David we too thirst for God, we can learn to see His power and glory wherever we are.  We need only direct our eyes of faith toward Him.  

Just as David made it his priority to “behold the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4), so in Imaginative Prayer we make it our priority to actually behold the invisible God.  As we often imagine the face of someone we love, so we use our imagination to enter God’s Word.  We are engaging Scripture to know “Christ the Word in the words” (Karl Barth).  We thirst not just to think about God but to experience Him.  So in Imaginative Prayer we enter Scripture with our mind’s eye wide open and all our senses firing.  With both our right and left brains going, we see, feel, hear, and taste the action.  God longs to meet with us as we long to meet with Him.

Imaginative Prayer works best with a Gospel story, as it is in the Gospels we meet God as He is fully revealed to us.  Here are the steps to Imaginative Prayer:

  1. Pick a Gospel story to read.

  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the Living Word, Christ Jesus, in the words you read.   

  3. Read the Gospel story slowly, prayerfully, two or three times.  

  4. Having read the story, now with your mind’s eye enter into it.  Using your five senses, smell the scents of the Passover meal; see Jesus as he washes the disciples’ feet; hear the sounds from the street; feel the sweat dripping from your face; listen to what Jesus is saying to the disciples and what they are saying to Him.  Linger over the scene and let yourself become part of the story.  Let yourself see Jesus coming to you.  What do you want to say to Him?  What do you hear Him saying to you?

  5. Don’t rush through this time of Imaginative Prayer, but when you are finished, pray the Lord’s Prayer.   

Some Gospel passages for you to begin practicing Imaginative Prayer:  John 13:1-11; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 15:11-51; Luke 23:39-43; Luke 1:26-38.

Grace and peace,
Tim

photo by gingerherring

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