Discover the Ignatian way of praying
St Ignatius Loyola was a 16th century Spanish nobleman who was a wild, lively, vain, ambitious young man. He became a Christian but his actions didn't match up to the faith he professed. He was the same person, and he hadn't changed.
In 1521 he was hit in the legs by a canon ball and for several months lay in great pain in his home at Loyola castle. He had daydreams where he imagined the great deeds he would perform, and the women he would win. But the days were long so he asked for books to read. The only books available were a Life of Christ by a Carthusian monk Ludolph of Saxony, and a collection about the lives of the saints.
As he read the books his daydreams changed and he imagined himself outdoing the saints in poverty, prayer, and the simple life. He noticed that although both sorts of daydreams were pleasant at the time, the former left him feeling empty, bored and sad, while the latter made him feel happy, hopeful and encouraged.
St Ignatius discovered that being closer to God and more like him was the way to peace and real happiness and he wrote his "Spiritual Exercises" to help people come closer by stillness, prayer and contemplation.
Through our imagination we can step into a gospel story and imagine ourselves to be there in that scene. Rather than just reading or listening to the Bible story, we enter into it in a deeper way, we see Jesus in the scene. We can use our God-given imagination to listen, to see, to taste and smell the scene around us. As we use our imagination in this way we also observe what we are thinking and feeling as the story unfolds around us, and we ask God to speak to us through what we see, and hear, and feel.
Use a bible story like the Calling of the Disciples, or the Healing of the Paralytic: Mark Chapter 1 and 2, or the Healing of the man at the Pool: John Chapter 5.
Start with a moment's silence, and relax, just sitting comfortably. Ask God to use the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then read the story you have chosen all the way through.
Now use your imagination:
Let the Holy Spirit guide you without trying to make something happen. The blessing comes from experiencing the story with your whole being.
Afterwards, spend a few moments reflecting what happened and how you feel. Give thanks to God for being with you during this time.