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IMAGINATIVE PRAYER

IMAGINATIVE PRAYER

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES FOR BUSY PEOPLE

For the past several weeks we have looked at keeping our priorities straight in a busy world. David was such a person, “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

David pursued the “one thing” of seeking to live in the awareness of God’s presence and beauty.

In these weeks we have looked at the following spiritual practices that many people have found helpful for living each day in the awareness of God.

  • The Daily God Hunt
  • Palms Down/Palms Up
  • Praying Scripture
  • Prayer Walking
  • Unplugging

Today I want to recommend to you the spiritual practice of 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

David made it his priority to live in continued awareness of God. Even when he was in the wilderness David learned to ‘see’ God’s power and glory. “So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.” Through Imaginative Prayer we can ‘look’ upon God and ‘behold’ Him.

As we often imagine or picture in our minds the face of someone we love, so this is a way of praying in which we imagine ourselves into God’s presence. We come to Scripture in order to know “Christ the Word in the words” (Karl Barth). With Imaginative Prayer we enter Scripture with all of our senses, to see, feel, hear, smell and taste what we read. Here is how Imaginative Prayer, taught by Ignatius of Loyola, works:

  • Pick a Gospel story to spend some time in, as in the Gospels we best ‘see’ God as He is revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the Living Word, Christ Jesus, as you read the Gospel text.
  • Read the Gospel text slowly, prayerfully, two or three times.
  • Having read the Gospel text, now with your mind’s eye enter into it. Using your five senses, ‘see’, for instance, Jesus as He washes the disciples feet. ‘Smell’ the scents of the Passover meal and ‘taste’ it. ‘Hear’ the sounds from the street. ‘Feel’ the heat of the crowded room and the perspiration on your face. ‘See’ Jesus coming to you and wanting to wash your feet. Imagine what you want to say to Jesus. What do you hear Jesus saying to you? Let yourself linger in this scene and become part of the story.
  • When your finish your Imaginative Prayer with the Gospel text, thank Jesus for meeting with you.

You might find the following Gospel passages a good place to begin meeting with God in Imaginative Prayer:

  • John 13:1-11
  • Mark 10:46-52
  • Luke 15:11-51
  • Luke 23:39-43
  • Luke 1:26-38.

I hope Imaginative Prayer helps you to live in ever-greater awareness of the God who is always present to you.

Grace and peace,
Tim

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