Scenes from the first day in Sydney

Scenes from the first day in Sydney
D, the Opera House, and the Bridge

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ignatian Prayer Practices Part II

A picture of a roo in mid-hop taken at the Mungo World Heritage Sight (Wilandra Lakes).

This blog picks up where we left off yesterday-- introducing this powerful method of Ignatian Contemplation using Imagination and Scripture. Below is a passage from the gospel of Luke and step by step instruction in how to use your imagination in prayer.

Passage for Contemplation --Luke 5:17-26

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.

Just then people came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up to the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.

When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Then the scribed and Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘stand up and walk’? But so that you know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.”

Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God.

Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying “we have seen strange things today!”

The Contemplation Step by Step

Step 1.

Pay attention to choosing a prayerful posture, relaxing, closing your eyes, entering into the presence of God which is always around us… like the air we breath. Be attentive to feelings as you begin this encounter with God.

Step 2.

Conscious that you are in God’s presence, and the Spirit of God within us expresses even without words what we need and desire from God, spend some time identifying the particular grace you want from God right now. It may be a sense of peace, or a healing of an inner wound, or a deeper sense of gratitude, or a sense of direction and purpose. Or perhaps you might pray simple to know, love, and follow Christ.

Step 3.

Read the passage again, so that you have a feel for the situation, the setting, the characters.

Step 4.

Use your imagination to compose the scene before entering into it. What does the village look like? How big is this house? Imagine the crowds of people there… who are they? What have they come seeking? How are the scribes and Pharisees different from everyone else? Picture Jesus there inside the house, teaching the people, and reaching out to heal the people placed before him. Notice outside the group of people carrying their beloved friend on the mat, and the expression on their face as they try to get through the crowds and into the house. What are they feeling? What is the person on the mat feeling?

Step 5.

Enter into the scene, allowing the Holy Spirit to choose a character involved in the scene for you to become. Who is it? One of the bystanders? One of the disciples? One of the friends or perhaps the person on the mat? Or perhaps one of the religious authorities?
Allow the scene to unfold and notice your thoughts and feeling as you interact. Don’t worry about how you’re doing, just let yourself go and be with them. Allow yourself to be drawn into the situation, and spend the next several minutes with this.

Step 6.

As the scene has unfolded, you have spent this very privileged time with Jesus. Freeze the action going on around you so that it is just the two of you now, and share with Jesus as you would with a close friend. What has this time meant to you? What are you feeling? Express your gratitude to Jesus, and receive his response. Then take your leave of him and we will begin to return to this place together.


  1. i have never mindfully employed imagination in prayer but i remember when i first heard God's voice. It sounded just like my imagination.
    I have realised since then that when thoughts arrive in my head spontaneously and at odd moments I need to listen and it's reassuring to see that what you are advocating is a similar thing

    have fun

  2. Hi David,

    Greetings from Somerset, England.

    I came here via Kylie's blog. I have only prayed pleading little arrow prayers (and very few) in the last few years. I like the idea of imagining a scripture. I love reading novels and being taken on a journey by them, escaping my reality, so using imagination in reading a Bible passage may be a similar process?

    However I do not share yours and Kylie's confidence that any 'voice' I 'hear' is from God. I used to- I used to think I could hear it so clearly.