Connecting with a Bible story. Prayer as a conversation.
This page is an introduction to Ignatian Prayer. The underlying dynamic of the Ignatian prayer is that of a conversation. We are in a relationship with God that involves give and take, our response to his invitation, a sharing of life like conversing with a very good friend. The simple steps below can help a group or individual enter a Bible story by use of imagined senses. What comes from this ?conversation? will not be ?Gospel truth? but an emotion or a conviction that has connected with God.
Who was Ignatius?
Ignatius was a Basque Spanish soldier who was injured in a battle against the French army in the 1520s. During his recovery he meditated on the Scriptures and wrote a book. From the beginning of his spiritual journey, Ignatius wanted to lead others into a relationship with Christ Jesus.
It took years for him to develop the attitudes, insights, and techniques that we know as Ignatian spirituality. Some spiritual approaches seemed too passive to him. They were based on reading books and listening to sermons and lectures. They appeared to say that God can be found through some kind of passive absorption of good will and good behavior. Ignatius describes his ministry by the simple Spanish word converser meaning, ?to converse,? ?to talk with.?
We are called to use our imagination and senses. The famous Ignatian motto is ?finding God in all things.? This is in our relationships, work, rest, recreation, strivings, successes, failures, hopes and dreams. God can be found in all of these. Found does not mean an intellectual exercise of straining to ?understand? the presence of the God. Rather, it means engaging God in it, meeting him and ?listening? to him.
Ignatian prayer places great emphasis on the power of the imagination to deepen our relationship with God. One of the principal forms of prayer in the ?Spiritual Exercises? is imaginative reflection on scenes from the Gospels. The praying person becomes a participant in the event.
Take the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus, for example. The pray-er feels the heat of the sun, smells the passing animals and hears the noise of the crowd. Above all, the pray-er watches and hears Jesus as he approaches the man, heals him, and disputes with the angry Pharisees. Lastly the pray-er allows him/herself to be in a conversation of some sort with Jesus. Jesus may just say one word, or ask a question of the pray-er. This brief encounter will probably spring from the scene that has just happened.
This kind of imaginative prayer seeks the truth of the heart rather than the truth of facts. The person who prays this way notices the feelings and desires inspired, imagining what Jesus is doing or saying. To deepen the encounter, Ignatius recommends savoring the experience, returning to it again and again to relish the details.
These imaginative prayer encounters with God stir the emotions. They provoke feelings of gratitude and evoke courage and humility.
Some uninterrupted time
An open heart and mind
A passage of Scripture
Pray for a desire to converse with Jesus and respond to Him.
Read a suitable passage a few times.
Get ready to enter the world of Jesus?
and also to let Jesus into yours.
Engage? let you body and mind enter the story.
Just accept the noises around you so you are not distracted.
Use your senses? what do you see, hear, feel, smell, taste?
Paint a scene in your imagination.
Walk into that scene, but don?t hurry anything.
Allow the story to play out.
As it reaches a conclusion, catch Jesus? eyes?
What is He saying to you?
What does His face say?
What are your senses saying now?
It?s over to you?
Ignatian ending prayer
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and call my own.
You have given it all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
This page was published as a sheet for use with some Bible Studies in Spring 2011.
They would be good passages for you to try.