Imagination in Prayer

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Do you use your imagination when you pray?  For some, engaging the imagination in prayer is an especially good way to calm the spirit and remove distractions. When you really use your imagination, it takes a lot of brain power and focus, leaving less for those stray thoughts and distractions that pull some of us away from finding our center in prayer. It can also be remarkably restful and restorative.

Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, used spiritual exercises to deepen his his prayer. One such exercise involved using the imagination in prayer to “enter” more fully into scripture. The stories of Jesus life found in the gospels are best for trying out this exercise. Choose a story from the Gospels, like the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man in Matthew 9:1-7.

Sit quietly and read the gospel story at least twice through, slowly.  Close your eyes and open your imagination. What is the setting? Put yourself into the story.  Who are you?  Where are you standing?  What do you see. What do you hear?  What do you smell?  What does the man look like?  What does Jesus look like?  Does anyone speak to you? What do they say?  What do you say?  How do you feel when you see the man rise up and walk?  When he walks away, what do you do?

Does the story mean more to you now that you have experienced it through your imagination?  You might want to write down your impressions while they are fresh in your mind. Do you have new insights into this story now that you have experienced it “first hand?”

Ignatius believed that all parts of life must be integrated with prayer, and that experiencing prayer through the imagination might help us to live the life of holiness God intended.  I hope this exercise in the imagination brings you focus, reflection, and new insights into the life God wants you to lead.

— Jennifer

10 Practices Great Christians Have in Common

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Pastor Laurie Barnes writes:

I have been going through some old files recently in an effort to get better organized and I ran across a wonderful document entitled “10 Practices Great Christians Have in Common.”  Unfortunately, the document doesn’t have the original source listed so I cannot properly attribute this list to its original author but it is too good not to share! 

The 10 Practices are:

  1. Think Great Thoughts (Phil 4:8)
  2. Read Great Books (Rom 12:2)
  3. Pursue Great People (Prov 13:20)
  4. Dream Great Dreams (Eph 3:20)
  5. Pray Great Prayers (John 16:23-24)
  6. Take Great Risks (Heb 11:6)
  7. Make Great Sacrifices (John 15:13)
  8. Enjoy Great Moments (Ecc 3:12-13)
  9. Empower Great People (2 Tim 2:2)
  10. Develop Great Habits (1 Tim 4:8)

 

Now that I’ve re-discovered this list that had been tucked away in a file, I am going to start asking God what changes I need to allow Him to make in me so that I can do Great things for Him!  To God be the glory!  Have a Great week!

Good Friday Prayer

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Pastor Jeff Clinger (Congregational Care Pastor for D-I) wrote this beautiful prayer for Good Friday, and I could not think of a thing to add, so here it is:

Good Friday Prayer

God of unconditional sacrificial love, we struggle to fully grasp the significance of this Friday that we have come to call “good.” We call this Friday good, but it is the day on which Jesus was crucified and died. We call this Friday good, but it is a day on which we are reminded of how we fall short of who you call us to be. We call this Friday good, but wonder how that can really be.

Yet we know, loving God, that even in the midst of Lent we are Easter people. We can call this Friday good because we know how the story ends. Let us not, however, be too quick to jump to Easter and to miss the significance of this day. Let us not be too quick to celebrate the good news of the resurrection that we forget to acknowledge the realities of pain and suffering and death in our world.

We pray to you today, gracious God, for all of those who are hurting and struggling in our families, in our community of faith, and around the world. We have great hope, that by your love all who hurt might find healing and that all who struggle might find peace. And we have this hope, because of who you are, because of your son Jesus, and because of what happens on this Friday we call good.   AMEN.

Have a wonderful, blessed Easter.

– Pastor Laurie & Jennifer


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