Imagine: this Lent
Imagine praying more profoundly than ever before this Lent. Or perhaps I should say: pray using your imagination. Over the 5 weeks of Lent, in these articles and in select homilies each weekend, we’ll dive profoundly into Ignatian Contemplation, a way of praying by placing ourselves within the stories of Scripture. St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us the guide for this method of prayer in his Spiritual Exercises, and it’s had a profound impact for nearly 500 years.
Here’s a basic way to pray an Ignatian Contemplation with a story from the Bible:
- For a few moments I consider how God is looking at me with great love.
- I ask that all my thoughts, emotions and actions will be focused on and guided by God in the prayer ahead.
- I slowly read over the passage from the Bible once, reminding myself of the story.
- I imagine the scene in the story: What does the setting look, sound, feel, smell like? Which people are there, and how do I imagine them dressed? I can imagine more details for a little while too…
- I take a moment and ask God for a grace: what it is I’m seeking. It might be simply to know, love, and serve him more.
- Now I imagine myself in the scene, with the people, just as if I were there. I hear what they’re saying and see what they’re doing. I refer to the details of the passage… but I also listen for other things it seems they’re saying and doing. Maybe they begin to interact with me. How do I feel? Maybe I want to say something and do something too…
- I take some time to talk with the Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit…the way one friend speaks to another…whatever comes to mind. I might talk with Mary as well and ask for her prayers.
- I close with an Our Father or another prayer.
This first Sunday of Lent the Gospel story is the temptation of Jesus in the desert (Luke 4:1-13). During this week, you might use the steps above to pray with this story. Next week and following, you’ll find here a guided Ignatian Contemplation applied to one of the readings from that Sunday. You can also use this prayer with others stories from Scripture.
Imagine…by the time Easter comes, we might have a whole new habit of prayer developed, to enter into all the amazing Resurrection stories even more profoundly!
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.