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Ignatian Contemplation

Prayer using the imagination is a pillar of the Ignatian spiritual tradition. In its most common form, you take a passage from scripture, usually one of the gospels, and immerse yourself in it imaginatively using all the senses. You feel the heat of the day, smell the livestock and clouds of dust on the road, listen to Jesus’ words, watch his actions. It’s a way to engage the gospel personally, with all of our faculties.

Creighton University’s online ministries site has an excellent section on imaginative prayer, including a helpful article on how to get started. Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, explains it in this short video.

Jim Manney
Jim Manneyhttps://www.jimmanneybooks.com/
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. Having spent over 40 years learning and teaching scenic and lighting design for the theatre, many times I would study a script or an improvised piece and I would place myself within the work to become cognizant of the meaning and feeling of the piece. Then the next steps would be to choose a style and the pieces that would become the setting and the way lighting would alter, hide, reveal the piece as the performers occupied the space. The form would then be manipulated by means of the elements of design. These would be tried several times until the meaning and feeling wold be transmitted to the viewer.
    So to do the same with a scene from Scripture is easily accessible to me. Herb Sayas

  2. I was born with scoliosis and I have osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, especially around my hips. I walk with a cane and when I have to walk around the supermarket or walk for exercise, I use a walker.
    In my imaginative prayer, I see myself following Jesus hoping to get healed like He healed the paralytics and the blind. But there are so many people in the crowd who are in front of me trying to get Jesus’ attention. I’m sweating because it’s such a hot day and I’m exhausted and in so much pain from walking using a thick branch for a cane. Then I see Zaccheus up on a tree and Jesus talking to him. I inch my way to the tree. After He finishes talking to Zaccheus, I call out to Jesus.
    Jesus! Jesus! Help me! Jesus turns His head and looks at me with questioning eyes. I blurt out: Jesus, I want to walk like a normal person and without pain. I truly believe that You can heal me. Please have pity on me. Jesus walks towards me, puts His hands on my shoulders, looks up to Heaven and takes my cane away from me.
    At that instant, I felt something wonderful wash over me. My pain and my exhaustion are both gone and I knew that I had been healed. I look at Jesus, I fall on my knees and I say “ Thank you, Lord!”

  3. I began the Ignatius exercises last lent.I love St. Ignstius spiritually. I definitely not the same. It has changef my life completely.

  4. I thought everyone prayed and contemplated that way… Then how does everyone else pray? Do they just imagine printed word?

  5. I used this method in reciting rosary and often experienced as if i was there , seeing , feeling it real. Once i was at the garden of agony and the question came to me ” where was mother Mary and how she felt if she knew Jesus being arrested”. Then a sharp pain like a knife cut into my heart and i could not continue reciting the rosary for a few seconds and the group of friends continued to pray loudly and i joined the prayer after a pause for deep breathing . I always believe this experience is so painful and real, thank god no bleeding physically.

  6. Yesterday, while i was in the middle of contemplating and hearing the priest who celebrated the mass, i felt an intense rumbling down my stomach and wanting just to leave without finishing the mass. But the priest’s homily was more than a storm, full of dynamism that i could not just leave to hear him as best I could. Later, the rumbling and pain in my stomach stopped, and thus finished the mass.
    Today, as I contemplated Jesus disciples storm at sea, the winds and waves that were kicking up in my stomach yesterday at the mass, yet later it calmed, I do believe that Jesus really does have authority to let me go through the trials, but also has the power to help me stand up and calm those waves when i turn to him in faith. Just as much as the disciples were amazed when he calmed the storm.
    Thank you Lord.

  7. I have always prayed this way even more so when I am disciplined but its how I talk to God I was given a good imagination from Our Father and taght that Imagination is ba, but I knew that whatever is bad is just the Devil deforming what God made to be very good… Im just so tickled to hear this on EWTN that there is an actual name for this type of prayer..Single Mom never been married son Occean 12 daughter Olivia 13 I’m 33 living in the Desert active at St. Anns finally after attending and enjoying several other churches back home for the 5th serious year back in the church were I attended elementary and learned received my sacraments the church I was baptized in by Father Cleary a great Irish preist who now has alziemers…. God Bless you and thank you for a great website…I posted on facebook


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