If we merely read about Jesus calming the sea, we miss the boat. But if we use our imaginations to experience the assault of the wet wind, the rocking of the boat, and Jesus bringing utter calm to the waves with one command, the biblical story comes alive as never before. If Jesus looks into our eyes and asks, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" our answer will be full of new insight and sincerity of heart.
In my many years of helping children, youth, and adults grow closer to God, I've found nothing more powerful in creating Face to face intimacy than the prayer practice of what I call "Stepping into Scripture." I offer an evening presentation filled with guided scriptural prayer: The Spiritual Exercises: Growing in Christ. But why wait? Below there's a brief how-to as well as a motivational why-to. This is my gift to you and yours. You can begin today to draw near, and nearer still, to the Source of your deepest peace and greatest joy.
There are those that mistrust the imagination. Yet surely it is one of God's greatest gifts to us. In an article in Christianity Today, Gregory Boyd, pastor and author, says that the imagination is the main place we encounter God. He notes that imaginative prayer is rooted in biblical tradition. Surely it is inspired imagination that wrote the 23rd Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake." Scripture is filled with images for us to turn over in our mind's eye.
The famous Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte (1837-1921) called the imagination "nothing less than the noblest intellectual attribute of the human mind." And Baptist Minister Alex Aronis endorses imaginative Scriptural prayer in his book, Developing Intimacy With God: An Eight-Week Prayer Guide Based on Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises.
When we walk with Christ on his earthly journey, as recorded in God's Word, we experience firsthand the ever-present love of Christ. And, in turn, fall more deeply in love with him.
The how-to is quite simple. Open the Bible to one of your favorite descriptions of Christ in action. If you were a witness to Christ's multiplication of the loaves and fishes, what might you see, hear, smell, taste, touch? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you create the beloved scenes of Scripture and to be with you as you enter into them. Just making a list of the sensory details is a prayerful act. Then allow yourself to experience on the stage of your imagination the entire Scripture scene from start to finish. Speak with Christ from your heart at the end, perhaps incorporating the exchange into your imagery.
Imaginative Scriptural Prayer is especially powerful for our children, who are curious, creative, and love to be part of the story. Help your child get to know Jesus deeply by entering biblical scenes. Let your child be with Christ, in the Temple at twelve, when he feeds the hungry and cures the sick, and, especially, when he invites the little children to come unto him. For a guided scriptural prayer see Helping Children Grow in Their Love for Jesus.
© 2021 Sally Metzger