Becky Eldredge On Imagination As A Tool Of Prayer

As we go about our busy lives in a technology-driven world, we must craft our inner life in a way that makes it easy to communicate with God where and when we want.
Imagination As A Tool Of Prayer

Prayers (in a Pentecostal Christian context) has been more of an external performance in recent times. A performance suited to the well-spoken and to those with tastes for the dramatic. There is little time left for silence or prayerful contemplation in our religious gatherings (except for preaching time). The say-what-you-can-in-the-most-evocative-words-you-can-muster exercise is not suitable for all, neither does it benefit all.

This is why I am a bit partial to what is called Ignatian Contemplation - a practice that involves the use of imagination to pray and connect to God. Needless to say, Ignatius of Loyola, one of the founders of the Jesuits order, first advocated this practice as a way to keep God actively present in his mind and heart in order to make good decisions in his life among other things.

Busy Lives and Restless Souls is a book that focuses on the practices of the Jesuits. The book explains that the core of Ignatian spirituality is the idea that "...the interior life must be adapted to fit the circumstances of the exterior life." This means as we go about our busy lives in a technology-driven world, we must craft our inner life in a way that makes it easy to communicate with God where and when we want. The ease at which we can do this is one of Ignatian practices' strong points.

Becky Eldredge, the author of Busy Lives and Restless Souls explains how to practice one of the key pillars of Ignatian Spirituality, which is the Ignatian Contemplation. She writes down the steps in a simple way. It goes like this:

How to Pray Using Ignatian Contemplation
Select a Scripture.
Pick a passage from one of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.

Read the passage several times slowly so that you almost know the story well enough to share it with another person.

Imagine the scene.
Close your eyes and imagine the scene. F or instance, if you are praying with the scene of Jesus’ birth in the manger, imagine what this scene looks like. Who is in the scene? What are they doing? Where are they located? What do you notice about the environment? What do you smell? What do you hear? Let the Holy Spirit guide this unfolding event in y our mind.

Put yourself in the scene.
As the scene begins to take shape, put yourself in it. Notice where you end up. Again, with Jesus’ birth in the manger, notice: Am I standing by Mary or Joseph? Am I peering into the manger to sneak a peek at baby Jesus? A I off at a distance as an observer? Am I standing by the animals?

Notice what happens.
Let the story unfold in your mind. Stay with the Scripture story in prayer.

Respond and rest.
Share with God what you noticed and experienced. Then rest in God and let God speak to you.

Reflect on what you experienced during this prayer. What did you learn about Jesus? A bout God? A bout another character in the story? About yourself?
Busy Lives and Restless Souls is a book that teaches the benefits of Ignatian Spirituality as well as gives practical examples about how to put it to use whether your are a priest or stay-at-home Mom. I recommend it.

Many thanks to Loyola Press for review copy. You can purchase a copy of the book at Amazon and other major online bookstores.

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