Pastor's pen for 22nd November 2020 - Running with Jesus, and other prayers...

I was talking to a colleague about the prayer practice of Ignatian Contemplation, which engages the imagination by focusing on a gospel story and then in one's mind, imagines the sights, sounds and smells of the situation in the narrative. You place yourself in the story and reconstruct what it might have been like. Contemplation desires at its base level to focus on the person of Jesus. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was a Basque convert who founded the Catholic missionary teaching order known as the Jesuits. He was recognized as a gifted spiritual director.

My colleague then provoked me with thoughts of another type of prayer practice specific to my own preferred activity; "Imagine yourself out for a run with Jesus and the disciples. What sort of conversation would be had?" Honestly, I'd never thought about that before. Hopefully they would have modern athletic gear rather than having to gird up all those early first century robes and suchlike. I guess you could imagine yourself having a round of golf with Jesus instead if that is your preference.

I'm not intending to be flippant, but rather to be open to creative ways of praying - keeping it fresh if you like. Geoff New in his Imaginative Preaching writes of the

Ignatian exercises that they are 'a means by which a person is presented with the presence and love of God and the challenge of how they will respond to the call of the King.' (p.144)

Can I encourage you to keep finding new ways to be enthusiastic about prayer? It is so vital to our walk of faith with God. The thought of running with Jesus has fired my imagination. Let us not be afraid to adapt the spiritual practices that emerge from the Christian tradition, both historical and scriptural. We can say, with the writer of the Hebrews; 'Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...' (Heb 12:1)

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