Arts & Faith: Lent—First Sunday Imaginative Prayer Exercise

Arts & Faith: Lent logoEach week of Lent, we’ll provide an Ignatian prayer for you, inspired by a video from Arts & Faith: Lent. The video and prayer for the First Week of Lent, Cycle A, are based on Matthew 4:1-11.

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

—Matthew 4:1


As we begin this time of quiet prayer, I invite you to find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight and your legs planted on the ground. Allow yourself to notice your breathing as you continue to breathe normally. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Take a few moments and close your eyes, preparing yourself to listen to what God may be saying to you during this prayer. As you sit with your eyes closed, use these or similar words: “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.” When you are ready, open your eyes and pray.

Going into the Wilderness

Imagine you are walking in the desert. The sun is so hot that it feels as if your skin is burning. There is little vegetation except for some scrub bushes and cactus that spring up between the brown, dusty sand and rocks. It’s a harsh landscape. You think that no one would survive here more than a day or two without water and food. You are thankful you brought both with you for this journey.

As you look ahead, you see something or perhaps someone, sitting on a group of rocks. As you get closer, you see that it’s a man, and he is crouched over with his hands clasped tightly. His head is down. He seems to be deep in thought or prayer. As you get closer, you realize it is Jesus. He looks up at you. His face is sad and pained. What do you say to him? He invites you to sit down beside him. He asks you why you are walking in the desert. What do you tell him?

You offer him some of your water, but he shakes his head no. He seems preoccupied. He raises his head and speaks to you. What does Jesus say to you? How do you respond to him? The sun is beginning to get low, and there is now a cool breeze in the air. It’s time for you to continue on your way. Jesus continues to sit there, looking down at the rocks and sand at his feet. He looks so sad and lonely. As you leave, what do you say to him? He looks up at you for a moment. As you turn to walk away, what does Jesus say to you?

Where are the “wildernesses” in your life that tempt you? What do you want to ask Jesus so he can help you during the wilderness times?

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Read a transcript of today’s video here. The art is Ivan Kramskoi’s Christ in the Desert.


  1. The painting was a very moving image. I was made aware of the awareness of Christ’s struggles. His hands lead me to know that He was pleading with His Father for the grace to avoid the temptations. I am trying to hold onto that visual as I ask for grace to avoid sin during Lent.

  2. A most meaningful encounter. I was loathe to leave him, but he told me to keep seeking him and reassured me. Thank you.

  3. I was drawn to the picture of the painting, Christ in the Desert, as I noticed instantly His humanity shown by what looks like His weariness. Not just in His body posture, but in the eyes. As someone who likes to “step into” scenes I felt I wanted to sit with Him knowing no words had to be exchanged. I wanted to be there for Him as He has done many times for me. The picture has given me something to reflect upon.


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