Praying with the Imagination

Ignatian Imaginative Contemplation

Prayer using the imagination is a pillar of the Ignatian spiritual tradition. In its most common form, you take a passage from scripture, usually one of the gospels, and immerse yourself in it imaginatively using all the senses. You feel the heat of the day, smell the livestock and clouds of dust on the road, listen to Jesus’ words, watch his actions. It’s a way to engage the gospel personally, with all of our faculties.

Creighton University’s online ministries site has an excellent section on imaginative prayer, including a helpful article on how to get started. Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, explains it in this short video (right).

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation on the Scriptures invites students to enter the scene of a Scripture story and meet the people that feature in that story. It allows children opportunities to feel that in some way they have met Jesus when they experience a Guided meditation on a Gospel story. Guided meditation provides a prayerful experience of scripture stories.

How to write a Guided Meditation Script

  1. Begin by setting the students into comfortable positions and developing a sense of relaxation.
  2. Invite students to come with you on a journey  (e.g. back to the time of Jesus’ birth…)
  3. Take students on an imaginary journey. The countdown technique is effective here e.g. “As your foot touches the first step, you feel a sense of calm over your body.” Countdown through five or six steps until you reach the destination of the story.
  4. Describe the environment by engaging the senses. Describe what can be seen, heard, smelled and touched. Invite students to become immersed in the scene. Create an experience that is both visual and tactile, but doesn’t drag the process on for too long.
  5. Meet the characters and observe their actions. Imagine how they feel. Wonder about what might happen after you leave the scene.
  6. Begin the journey back to the starting point of the meditation, returning the same way that you entered.
  7. Slowly build awareness of the present-day world around them as they leave the world of the Scripture story and re-enter their own world.

Some points to consider:

  • Wherever possible, use short descriptive sentences, pausing after each one.
  • Quiet music can be used to support the meditation; but don’t allow it to become a distraction.

For a Guided Meditation on the Annunciation for Stage 2 students click here

For a short video with an example of Bible Journaling, click here