Ignatian Prayer

OVERVIEW. Ignatian Prayer is using our imagination to explore the depths of a gospel story. Ignatius of Loyola was a 16th century priest whose writings have inspired many contemplative Christian practices - spiritual direction and the prayer of examen being two others you may have heard of. In Ignatian Prayer, as we read or listen to the Bible, we engage all of our senses to imagine what it would be like to be there, physically present in the story. From there, we engage with God to listen to what he’s speaking to us. The point is to make the Bible come alive so that it’s not something we just hear but can more fully know.

The practice consists of four steps:
  • Consider the background / context of the passage
  • Pray, asking God for grace of understanding
  • Read the scripture passage first to imagine and engage your senses 
  • Read the passage a second time, listening for what God is revealing and speaking to you

PRACTICE. Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet | John 13:1-17

First, get into a comfortable position to prepare for the practice. Remove any distractions that might interrupt you as you read.

We’ll be praying through John 13:1-17. This passage comes towards the end of Jesus’ ministry, after the seemingly high points of raising Lazarus (John 11:38) and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:12). The disciples, along with everyone else, are expecting Jesus to assert his authority as Israel’s Savior. At a private meal before Passover, the twelve are instead surprised by Jesus humbling himself to wash their feet.

Let’s pray before reading the passage. You can use this as a starting prompt: “Lord, would you reveal how our expectations of you prevent us from seeing you truly and hearing you rightly. Give us grace to humble ourselves as you repeatedly humbled yourself.”

As we read the passage for the first time, imagine yourself physically present in the passage. Ask yourself the following questions to engage your senses:
  • What part of the story am I drawn to?
  • Which character do I identify with? Or am I a bystander in the story?
  • What would I be experiencing through sight, sound, smell, touch, and even taste?

Slowly read through John 13:1-17. Pause for a minute or two afterward to sit in the passage.

Now, read the passage a second time. This time, listen for what the Lord is calling your attention to and speaking to you.

Consider the following questions:
  • Which part stood out to me?
  • Which sense(s) did I engage with the most?
  • What do I feel like God was speaking to me?

To finish your time, feel free to journal about your experience and what Jesus was speaking to you, or simply close out in a time of prayer.

FURTHER PRACTICES. John 4:1-42 or John 8:1-11 are two good places to start. The Gospels tell countless stories of Jesus healing, delivering, feeding, and teaching people. The simplicity of this practice is that you can put yourself into any of these stories and hear God speak to you. 
We first practiced Ignatian Prayer as part of our Hearing God series. To learn more, feel free to check out that sermon!