If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Strategies for Prayer -- seventh in a series (imaginative)

Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1).

Another prayer strategy I use is ‘imaginative prayer.’  I thought I had invented imaginative prayer. Just goes to show how little I knew -- and know -- of prayer.

My use of the Rosary as a prayer tool initiated me to the practice. For readers unfamiliar with the Rosary, I posted links to information in my last Strategy blog to help explain its history and its use. You can follow these links here and here.

I do not use the Rosary as traditionally prayed, but modify it to better meet my prayer and worship needs. When I ask someone to pray for me, I usually tell them what I need prayer for. And so, I modify my petition on the ‘Hail Mary’ beads this way: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, please pray for (name of a person, or a situation). Amen. (For readers familiar with the Gospel of Luke, you might have recognized two portions of Scripture in the Hail Mary – Luke 1:28 and 1:42).

The Rosary also includes the recitation on the Apostles’ Creed, the ‘Our Father’ (the Lord’s Prayer) and the Glory Be’.  By the time I’m through these sections of the Rosary, 20-30 minutes might have passed because I take time to reflect on specific words or phrases in those prayers. This is in addition to the half hour or so I spend reading Scripture and worshiping Jesus through music CDs. But I don’t like to leave the Rosary without meditating on at least one of the Mysteries. For readers unfamiliar with the Mysteries, please follow this link.

It was during my meditation of the Mysteries that I stumbled on what I thought was my invention of ‘imaginative prayer.” I later discovered people have practiced imaginative prayer for centuries. St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote of that prayer method in the 15th century. When I searched the internet for other explanations of the practice I found many sites. Here is one link (click here).

As I meditate on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, I focus on that particular time in Jesus’ life. For example, one of the Mysteries has to do with His flogging. I imagine I am there, in the courtyard. I try to smell the dust swirling in the wind, to hear the mob’s shouts behind me, to watch His mother crumble with grief as the soldier’s whip slices Jesus’ back. Click this link to read my essay resulting from such an imaginative moment. Another Mystery – the Resurrection – resulted in this essay.

Scripture is replete with stories and vignettes that easily lend themselves to imaginative prayer – yet another strategy to engage us more deeply into the art and practice of communion with God.

I’ll post another of my strategies in a few days.

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