31 Oct Prayer 101: Imagination in Scriptural Prayer
Now, let your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God
The fourth in a series of short articles about prayer written by Friend and Oblate of Mucknell, Fr Raymond Avent.
When a passage is a parable or a story or where there is a scene and dialogue it can be very fruitful to use your imagination to bring the scene alive. When we use our imagination in the context of prayer, with an attitude of faith, we open ourselves to the mystery of God’s transforming presence within us. In such an imaginative meditation the heart of the Gospel message reaches deep drawing us into the heart of God and awakening a response. It is a beautiful way to grow in friendship with God and to discover his love for us and his call to us.
We take time to become centred and still. Then we read the passage through a few times until we are familiar with the story. We let the scene come to life through our imagination. We see what it is like, the people, the colours, the sounds. We hear what is being said. We begin to catch the atmosphere, the mood. We notice the characters and what they look like. And so we let ourselves be drawn into the story (rather as we might do reading a novel). Where am I in it? am a one of the people or a bystander? am I part of the action, involved in the dialogue? What am I feeling? How am I reacting?
More importantly, where is Jesus for me? Is he saying something to you? Is there a word of life for you? Let Jesus be for you what he wants to be. Don’t struggle to make anything happen – let it unfold naturally. Talk to the Lord – or you may want to rest quietly in his presence.
An example: John 1: 35-39
Take time to see the scene – let it unfold. Are you one of he disciples or a bystander? What to you feel when Jesus comes by? And when you see John looking at him and hear him saying “There is the Lamb of God”? Two disciples follow Jesus; do you go along with them? What do you feel at the Lord’s question, What are you looking for? Does anything stir within you? What are you looking for? Someone asks Jesus, Where are you staying? Is that your question? – or do you have another? What is your reaction when Jesus says, Come and see? Do you go? Do you listen to Jesus – and talk with him? How does he seem to you? What is it like to be with him -‘where he lives’? Do you want just to stay in silence with Jesus? Reflect on what this imaginative contemplation has meant for you – and give thanks.
Using scripture as prayer in this way has an honoured Christian tradition. Could you try to use this form of prayer sometimes?