Yesterday was back to Community Groups and so we returned to our prayer exercises. This week we tried out imaginative prayer and all the students said that they were able to connect with it! Imaginative prayer is placing ourselves into the stories of the Bible, sometimes as just an onlooker or sometimes as one of the characters. We let God guide our imagination, letting him change us to different characters, letting words strike us, letting images, smells, noises stick out to us through the Spirit's guidance.
There are some important things to remember when getting ready to engage in imaginative prayer. First, not everyone's imagination works the same. Some will be able to see vivid images, some will be able to hear the noises of the scenery, some will be able to smell the scents, some people will be able to feel the weather or the sand. There is not one right way to imagine. Second, start by placing yourself in the story as a specific character or onlooker but once in the story allow God to change your role. Third, allow yourself to sink into the setting. What do you see, feel, hear, smell? What is being said and to who? Is anything being addressed to you? Fourth, be aware if you are drawn to something or are resistant to doing something. Take note of this and continue in the story. Fifth, try to make eye-contact with God/Jesus. Sit next to him, speak to him. Sixth, while in the story try to resist interpreting anything, just go along with the story. After finishing make sure you reflect on the experience. This is the time you try and interpret what went on in your imagination and always make sure that your interpretations line up with Scripture.
In our session we used the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and then Jesus walking on water. I rewrote the story in order to heighten some of the senses. If you would like a copy of the story to try this practice with your student just let me know and I can send you a copy. Ask your student about their experiences with the prayer. What character were they? What things stuck out to them the most? Did they find the exercise difficult?