Challenge #5 - Imaginative Prayer
Ever feel like you are not smart enough to be a Christian or read the Bible? Does it seem that you need a college degree to figure out what God is saying? This is not true. While some parts or the Bible are confusing, the overall message is clear. You can read the Bible by yourself. God can speak to you when you read his Word. One way of accomplishing this is called “Imaginative Prayer.” This is reading a narrative of scripture and placing yourself in the story. Larry Warner has an overview of this exercise on pages 36-40 in his book Journey with Jesus.
- Choose a narrative from the Bible.
- Read it several times, noticing the details.
- Slow down and ask God to guide your thoughts and feelings.
- Imagine yourself as a person in the story, interacting with the characters.
- Remembering how you felt in the story, pray through what God is revealing to you.
This exercise may come naturally for some, others it may be quite a challenge. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind. First, think about the details. When you place yourself into the story, what do you feel, say, hear, feel, taste, or smell? Who did you talk to? What expressions did their faces have? What was their tone of voice? Second, it is important to realize that the point of this exercise is not to gain insights into the Bible. The idea is not so much about what we think happened in the narrative. Many of these details are not included in the Bible itself, so we are left to our imagination. This leads us to the main point of Imaginative Prayer; our goal is to encounter Jesus. “Insight is the consolation prize. The first prize is an encounter with Jesus.”
This exercise helps bring to the surface questions or issues we are wrestling with. Taking a posture of prayer, Jesus will speak to our hearts. He will reveal what he wants to reveal. Jesus himself will guide you and transform you. He will guide your imagination, and he will not contradict what he has revealed in other portions of Scripture.
Seeking God through Imaginative Prayer By Trevor Hudson
This is an honest blog post from a pastor who specializes in Spirital Formation. Talking with one of his mentors about the insights he gained from reading the Bible, he recorded the phrase, “Insight is the consolation prize. The first prize is an encounter with Jesus.”
Seeing God In Scripture
This is a quick podcast (24 min.) that discusses the role of creativity and imagination in reading the Bible.
The Importance of Imagination
This is a deep dive into the thoughts of C.S. Lewis. In this article. Dr. Lindsley from the C.S. Lewis Institute summarizes Lewis’s salvation experience and his view on imagination. He touces on the concept of a “baptized imagination.”
Journey with Jesus | Larry Warner
Here is a link to Warner’s work that expands past his book Journey with Jesus. This is a comprehensive list of resources and videos that cover spiritual formation.