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Praying Scripture Imaginatively

Do you ever long for some ways to make the Bible come alive, to encounter the Living God through His Word? Praying Scripture Imaginatively helps many people do that. Imagine, yes, imagine David in Psalm 63 as he is forlorn, wandering in the Wilderness of Judah, “a dry and weary land where there is no water” (v. 1). David is tired, thirsty, hungry, and on the run: David is far removed from the Lord’s sanctuary. Yet, in the next verse he prayerfully imagines: “I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory” (v. 2).

David also liked to imagine the Lord as his shepherd, guiding and caring for him like a shepherd does for his sheep (Psalm 23). He imagines himself dwelling safely in the Lord’s house, experiencing God’s provision and protection (Psalm 27). David even imagines the omniscience and omnipresence of God which he can never escape (Psalm 139).

Just as we imagine the faces of our loved ones, so we use God’s gift of imagination to enter the deepest truths of God’s Word. As God commanded his prophets to “eat” His Word (Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 3:1-3; Revelation 10:9-10), so we use our five senses to enter into God’s Word, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling what we read.

Praying Scripture Imaginatively works best with a Gospel story; it is in the Gospels we meet God revealed to us in Jesus. Here are the steps of Praying Scripture Imaginatively:

1. Pick a Gospel story to prayerfully read and encounter Jesus.

2. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the Living Word, Christ Jesus, in the inspired words.

3. Read the Gospel story slowly, prayerfully, two or three times.

4. In the theater of your mind, place yourself fully in the Gospel story. You might approach the scripture text like a movie director, starting with the wide angle lens and then zooming in. Use your five senses to feel the heat of a Galilean day; smell the fragrance of fish Jesus broils over a charcoal fire; feel the hunger of the multitude needing food; see the desperation of a leper. See the tax collectors and prostitutes huddled around Jesus. Above all, watch Jesus. See the way He walks, gestures, and notice the look in His eyes. Hear Jesus explain why He eats with sinners.

5. Note how Jesus seems in the story.

6. How do you see yourself in the story?

7. What do you hear Jesus saying to you?

8. Do not rush! Pay close attention to what you are feeling and thinking as you engage the story.

9. What do you want to say to Jesus?

Here are some Gospel passages that you might choose to get started with Praying Scripture Imaginatively: John 13:1-11; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 15:11-51; Luke 23:39-43; Luke 1:26-38.

Script yourself into Scripture!

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