Entering Into the Story

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In the Ignatian Method of Prayer, you enter into the story so that you can learn more about and participate more fully in the mind, the heart, and the work of Christ.

You use your imagination to enter into the reading, asking yourself …

• What do I see and hear? What do I smell, taste, or touch?
• Who are the characters and what’s going on with them?
• If I were in this movie, what role would I play?
• If I were Jesus in this story, what would I be thinking, feeling, saying?

The Woman with Hemorrhage is one of my favorite healing stories in the Gospels.  Here is the passage, and then following it is a guide for you practice the Ignatian Method of Prayer from the Upper Room website.

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, … a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

–Mark 5:21, 24-34 (NRSV)

Picture yourself as the woman who has suffered from hemorrhages for years. You have heard of Jesus’ healing powers, and in desperation, you decide to go see if he’s the real thing. You soon find yourself being jostled by the crowd following Jesus. Evidently, you aren’t the only one curious about this so-called healer. What are you feeling as you try to get a glimpse of Jesus? Do you feel weak from the effort of keeping up with the crowd? Do you feel hopeful? Perhaps also a bit foolish?

Now you’ve squeezed your way to the front of the pack where you can see Jesus. You’re too shy or embarrassed to say anything to him. But you think that if you can just touch his clothes, something good might happen. And it does! You sense, indeed know, that you’ve been healed! What is your response when Jesus asks, “Who touched me?” What emotions are you experiencing? How do you feel about Jesus now? How do you feel about the crowd?

Have you ever needed physical, emotional or spiritual healing? Who did you turn to for help? Were you shy or embarrassed to ask for help? Is there something in your life now for which you need Jesus’ healing touch? What would it take to muster the courage to reach out to him?

Holy and Healing God, continue to touch those sore places in my life. Help me become healed and whole. In the name of the Great Physician, I pray. Amen.

-Rev. Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care

Keep on asking!

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Luke 11:9-10
“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened .
I remember back when I was a little girl growing up in a Chicago suburb called Des Plaines…I’d visit an outdoor mall called Golf Mill. The mall got its name because it was located on Golf road and it had pond with a  large water mill in it. I would lean over the rail, look down into the water, watch the beautiful giant goldfish swimming around, and throw in 1 penny and make a wish. Sometimes the wish would be for a new toy, maybe a doll or a book. Sometimes I’d throw in the penny and ask for something more substantial. Like, “God, please heal my dog who got hit by a car, or God, please don’t let my parents get divorced.  Even though I never went to church as a child, I would still address my penny wishes to God. I would ask God to supply my wants and needs. As a small child, my relationship with God, my prayer life primarily consisted of asking for wants and needs, and I never hesitated to ask.

As I got older however my relationship with God grew deeper, I began to express my gratitude for God’s goodness, giving God thanks. “Thank you God, for my good health.  Thank you for keeping my family safe. Thank you, God for food and drink. Thank you for the opportunity to travel to wonderful places. Thank you for your creation and thank you for the awe of the universe, the stars and the planets, the wildflowers that pop up in the cracked sidewalks of the slums, signs of beauty and new life.”
Then there came a point in life where God seemed to be nowhere, far away, silent, unresponsive. I was searching for answers and receiving none. “Why did my younger sister get breast cancer?”  Silence. “Why did you let my parent’s get divorced?”  Silence.  The search for answers led to more questions.
So what about the Silence? What do we do when God seems far away? If I were to be real honest, what do I do when God isn’t answering the prayers the way I would suggest that they’d be answered?
Jesus addresses this topic as well.  He tells us to keep on asking, to be persistent.  This quote from Douglas John Hall, also speaks to not giving up on prayer, “Real prayer cannot be faked…Its only prerequisites are sufficient self knowledge to recognize the depths of our need and enough humility to ask for help.  Ask! Really ask! Keep on asking! And it will be give you….and is being given you already in the asking.”

Rev. Nancy Pauls

Pastor of Prayer

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