Ignatian Contemplation: Praying with Scripture Using Your Imagination

By Charlotte Phillips

On July 31, we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. While I don’t think I could pick just one saint as my favorite, St. Ignatius is high on my list. He is the founder of the Jesuits, and his life experiences have shaped and formed Ignatian Spirituality.

Ignatian Spirituality is rooted in the belief that God is active and present in our lives, and that we can become more aware of God’s presence in our lives through prayer. One of my favorite prayers from St. Ignatius is Ignatian Contemplation, or Imaginative Prayer.

St. Ignatius believed that God can speak to us through our imagination. Ignatian Contemplation is imagining a scripture passage as though you are writing a book or making a movie.

As you slowly read the passage notice:

  • What do you see? Where are you in the story-in the action or watching from the side? Who else is in the scene?
  • What do you hear? Do you hear the words you are reading? Do you hear the wind blowing or people talking in the distance?
  • What do you taste? Can you taste the food being prepared? Do you taste the dryness in your mouth from the dusty road?
  • What do you smell? Can you smell flowers blooming? Food and wine being shared? Animals grazing in the field?
  • What do you feel? Happiness? Confusion? Joy? Sadness? Peace?

While practicing Ignatian Contemplation, completely immerse yourself in the story. You may want to read the passage several times. I also like to journal, as it helps me to understand what God is trying to say to me during my prayer time.

I encourage everyone to try Ignatian Contemplation. You never know, it may help you experience Scripture in a whole new way!

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