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Praying Scripture with Holy Imagination

“Easter is without an audience.

You are not in charge of Resurrection.

No one saw the rising.

 No one witnessed it.

 No one actually saw a resurrection take place.

It happened in secret, behind a stone, in the dark, without an audience.”

By Scott Erickson (Image Pilgrimage)

But with practice, using scripture and our imaginations, we can be with Jesus through praying the scripture with our “Holy Imagination”. This is an exercise St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) designed to discern God’s call in our lives.

Last week, while reading scripture about the last few days of Jesus’s life, I was able to stay close to Him and experience His pain and suffering. I sat with Jesus in the tomb they placed Him in and I was afraid, until two angels appeared at the edge of his tomb and lit up the space with light. I have a great imagination and the light helped me to not be afraid and sit with Jesus in His death. I cried and sang my favorite songs.

A few days later, Jesus came to me and said, “You have been with me in my passion and death. You died with me, now receive new life with me.” I was able to hug Jesus and greet Him with joy. I was able to tell Him how sad I was through His suffering and death, but I knew He would rise from the dead. I knew how the story ended! I have hope in knowing Jesus.

St. Ignatius taught that our imagination is a gift from God. Jesus shares Himself with us as we pray and He inspires our imagination. Praying with your imagination takes practice. For the past five years, I have been experiencing praying with my imagination in my daily life. My first experiences with using my holy imagination was on a retreat in Colorado. In my imagination, I was able to sit on a bench, near a garden, and Jesus joined me. He put His hand on my back and told me I was His beloved. That was my first experience and I have been practicing using my holy imagination ever since. 

As I am reading scripture, I enter into the scene and observe what is happening. Sometimes I become one of the characters in the scene. Recently, I prayed with my imagination at the birth of Jesus in the stable. I was in my barn in Silverton and Jesus was being born in the barn, right there in front of me. Mary offered baby Jesus to me and I held him in my arms. Jesus smiled up at me!

Can we trust our imagination?

Our rational, western world has taught us to be analytical; think about it, reason it out, study it. God has given us our imagination and He wants us to use it in prayer. I encourage you to pray with your imagination and then journal and reflect afterward. Sharing your experiences with trusted friends can help you discern what you are hearing from God. 


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