Imagnative Prayer

In Contemplation or Imaginative prayer we enter into a life event or story passage of the Scriptures by way of imagination, making use of all our senses. Theologians tell us that through contemplation we are able to “recall and be present with the mysteries of Christ’s life.”

The Spirit of Jesus, present within us, teaches us, just as Jesus taught the Apostles. The Spirit recalls and enlivens the particular mystery into which we enter through prayer. In contemplation, Christ brings forward the particular event we are contemplating and presents Himself within that mystery.

Method: In contemplation, we enter the story as if we were there.

♦ Watch what happens; listen to what is said.
♦ Become part of the mystery; assume the role of one of the persons.
♦ Look at each of the individuals; what does he or she experience?
♦ What difference does it make for my life, my family, for society, if I hear the message?
In the gospel stories, enter into dialogue with Jesus.
♦ Be there with him and for him.
♦ Want him; hunger for him.
♦ Listen to him.
♦ Let him be for you what he wants to be.
♦ Respond to him in the end with Colloquy.

Colloquy: Closing Conversational Prayer

In colloquy, the pray-er stands before the cross and enters into conversation with the suffering Christ. The dialogue unfolds like a simple conversation.

Alternate settings can be chosen to engage in colloquy such as walking along a path, conversing with the risen Christ, or in the setting of the Biblical Narrative.

The pray-er is encouraged to let his or her heart speak in an intimate outpouring of feeling, of love and compassion. The pray-er is strongly urged to be with Jesus in his resurrection. One may need to pray for the desire to experience the resurrection with Christ. The important thing to remember is that simply presence is primary. Just to be silent in the presence of the suffering or risen Christ is profound and healing prayer.

Suggested passages for contemplation on the life of Christ:


Luke 1:26-38 The Hovering Spirit
Luke 1:39-56 In Silence and Joy
Luke 2:1-14 A Timeless Birth
Luke 2:22-39 The End of Waiting
Matt 2:1-12 The Quest
Luke 2:51-52 The Hidden Life
Luke 2:41-50 Not Lost


Matt 4:1-11 Into the Wilderness
Matt 3:13-17 My Beloved
John 2:1-11 Water and Wine
John 4:5-30, 39-42 Living Water
Luke 7:36-50 Tears of Love
Matt 14:22-33 Walking on Water
Mark 10:46-52 To See Jesus
Mark 5:25-34 To Touch Jesus
Luke 10:38-42 To Hear Jesus
Luke 17:11-19 To Thank Jesus
Matt 25:31-46 Decision to Love
Luke 15:11-32 Forgiving Father
Luke 5:1-11 The Call of Peter
Luke 9:28-36 Enveloping Cloud
John 11:1-44 Come Out
Matt 21:1-17 The Donkey
John 13:1-16 Bathed in Love
John 17:1-26 The Heart of Christ


Mark 14:32-42 The Darkness
Luke 22:54-65 Three times
Matt 27:11-25 Suffered under Pilate
John 19:13-22 The Way of the Cross
Luke 23: 39-43 Two Opposites
Matt 27: 45-50 & Psalm 22
John 19: 38-42 A Royal Burial
Phil 2:5-11 Humility and Humanity
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Labor of Love


Matt 28:1-8 The Empty Tomb
John 20:1-10 Eyes of Love
John 20: 11-18 Christ Speaks my Name
Luke 24: 13-35 The Way
John 20: 19-23 The Breath of Christ
1 John 4:7-19 The Face of Love
John 20: 24-29 Hands and Feet
2 Cor. 2:14-16 The Fragrance of Christ
Matt 28: 16-20 Loves Rising
I Cor 15: 3-8 & Acts 9:1-9
Acts 2:1-11 Fire and Wind
John 15: 26-16:15 Better than I
Rev. 5:1-14 Worthy is the Lamb
Rev 21:1-8 Everything New

Adapted from Take and Receive Series: A Guide for Prayer by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and S. Marie Schwan

Read more about Ignatian Contemplation:



Jesus, may all of you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer, but hold me safe from the force of evil.
On each of my dyings shed your light and your love.
Keep calling to me until that day comes, when with your saints, I may praise you forever.

Adapted from Take and Receive: A Guide for Prayer by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and S. Marie Schwan