Each Tuesday we are inviting you to explore a new prayer practice as part of the experiential calendar. As part of that invitation, we also want to provide resources to help you as you explore those practices. This week, we’re looking at a creative form of prayer called “Imaginative reading” or “Imaginative prayer”.
Through Imaginative Prayer we place ourselves fully within a story from the Gospels. We become onlooker-participants and give full rein to our imagination. Jesus is speaking to a blind man at the side of the road. We feel the hot Mediterranean sun beating down. We smell the dust kicked up by the passersby. We feel the itchy clothing we’re wearing, the sweat rolling down our brow, a rumble of hunger. We see the desperation in the blind man’s face and hear the wail of hope in his words. We note the irritation of the disciples. Above all we watch Jesus—the way he walks, his gestures, the look in his eyes, the expression on his face. We hear him speak the words that are recorded in the Gospel. We go on to imagine other words he might have spoken and other deeds he might have done.
To put this in to practice consider these instructions from Professor of Spiritual Formation at Lipscomb University, Kris Miller:
Choose a passage to start with. After reading the passage through once, read it through again, very slowly. Allow yourself to be caught by a word, phrase, an image, or a truth. If it is a narrative, begin to imagine the scene. If it is not a narrative, imagine the reality described. Once you have read it through the second time slowly, put the passage down and use your imagination to enter the narrative or truth presented. You may want to us the word, phrase, image, or idea that caused you to enter the passage. If it is a Psalm or an epistle, imagine the truth and be in it. If it is a narrative, be in the event. Whatever the genre, take several minutes to let your imagination unfold and develop as you enter the story or the truth. You can trust that the Holy Spirit will be at work in your contemplation of the very Word that the Spirit inspired. Remain in the passage for several minutes. Then, journal a summary of your contemplation after you have experienced it.