It’s not unusual for me to pray using Ignatian prayer. Praying in this manner involves entering into the story with your imagination, being part of the scene, using your senses to let the narrative come alive within you. Imaginative prayer allows God’s word to access your whole person; it is not just your mind that is connecting with God, your emotions are involved as well. Be warned, though, it is also very provocative. You never know what is going to be touched by the Holy Spirit as you prayerfully follow the gospel narrative.
I was a bit surprised when the Holy Spirit impressed upon me to pray Luke 5 from the point of view of the boat. Ok, I thought. Why not? (Notes from my prayer journal follow in italics.)
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. Luke 5:1-3
I’m so grateful to be used by Jesus. Because of me, he can more easily preach the gospel to the crowds who are pressing upon him. I’m blessed to be the platform upon which he stands and ministers.
A true sense of gratitude arises within me. I am a vessel Jesus uses in the proclamation of the good news. I am not the focus of the crowds attention, Jesus is. The word of God reminds me that my role as Spiritual Formation pastor at our church isn’t just a job, I create space and places for Jesus to connect with the people he loves. Genuine joy bubbles up because of the privilege I have of serving Christ and Christ’s body in this manner. Yay God!
The word of God affirms and purifies.
I continued the narrative.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:10b,11
What??? You’re leaving me behind? Abandoning me? I thought I was important for your ministry. I’m no longer needed, so I get left on the shore?
My emotions go from humble gratitude to anger and resentment in a matter of a few verses. Who knew an inflated ego was hiding behind humble gratitude? The Holy Spirit did, that’s who. The word of God gently shows me my pride, how easily offended I am when someone or some other church is being used to advance the Kingdom. I want the credit, the attention. Ouch.
The word of God convicts and cleanses.
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16,17
Join the Conversation
What scripture do you enjoy meditating on and how has it taken fruit in your life?
How have you experienced Ignatian prayer?
Debby Bellingham is a spiritual director and a licensed psychotherapist. She has been practicing these gifts for 20 years. Additionally, she has worked as Spiritual Formation Pastor, a church staff chaplain and a Young Life area director. She loves leading spiritual formation retreats and giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to groups and individuals. Ms. Bellingham has given several presentations on Spiritual Formation at several conferences, including Renovare. She has authored several books and many articles on Spiritual Formation. Her education includes a Doctorate of Ministry is in Christian Spiritual Formation. Currently she resides New York however is originates from San Francisco.