Imaginative Prayer

This past weekend I went to the inaugural meeting of young adults at one of the parishes near my home. It was a lovely evening with Mass, snacks, witness talks, and a lesson about prayer and Catholic art given by Father Sports. It was a truly lovely evening. I really like learning about art, particularly because I love history. Father showed us the Call of Matthew by Caravaggio, and explained how we are to use images, like the painting, to help us pray. Father ended the talk by saying we should imagine our Lord in our lives at the grocery store or sitting with us as we watch a football game. It’s a strange way to consider praying but I have found it to be one of the most beneficial.

The main reason I like it is because of the informality. Christ is our king but he is also our brother. We should display highest reverence for our Lord and participate in the formal prayers of the Church like Mass, the Rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. But this formality can really throw some people off. Also different seasons of life require different types of prayer.

I used to pray the Rosary everyday. I loved it, I felt I was receiving such abundant graces. Lately, though, I haven’t been praying my Rosary as much. This doesn’t make me a bad Catholic, it doesn’t mean I no longer value the Rosary, and it doesn’t mean I won’t go back to a daily Rosary one day. Lately, I have been in need of less structured, imaginary prayer. I need our Lord and our Lady in the muck of everyday life right now. I need them to sit on the couch with me, carpool with me to work, and hold my hand as I walk through the day. I find myself more conscious of their presence in the muck of real life when I pray this way. At work, when I get stressed, I look out the window and imagine the Blessed Mother standing in the parking lot smiling and telling me to let God let go of whatever I’m getting stressed about. I imagine Jesus standing behind me when I’m working on difficult paperwork. And when something goes wrong, he places his hand on my shoulder and reminds me to take a breath, be patient, and relax.  I imagine my guardian angel sitting in my passenger seat, so when someone drives like a lunatic (myself included) my angel is there to protect me and remind me to slow down.

Imaginative prayer is a spectacular type of prayer because it reminds us of how present the powers of heaven are in our daily lives. Our Lord is first our friend, he wants to walk with us in life’s difficult and messy journey. We can invite him into our messy journey when we engage in imaginative prayer. Now this doesn’t mean he isn’t present already or it is harder to perceive his presence when we utilize other forms of prayer. I just think it is another spiritual weapon that can be added to one’s arsenal. When you find yourself unable to focus in structured prayer like the Rosary, try informal, relaxed, friendly, imaginative prayer.

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