Praying with your imagination instead of words.
I freely admit that we all have different temperaments and personalities. For some, go ahead and roll your eyes at this idea. For others, you will find this utterly life-giving. I fall into the latter category. I’ve always been prone to rather wild flights of fancy. Images have been a powerful force in my life – whether anxious images of something bad happening or happy daydreaming. I’ve spent plenty of mental energy in both camps. When I was first introduced to the idea of praying with my imagination instead of with only words, it was like a weight had been lifted. Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline first opened my eyes to this idea and it revolutionized my prayer life.
This week, instead of bowing your head and starting to talk through all your prayers, perhaps try this approach. Set aside time for prayer and set it apart as time you are committing to communion with the Father. If you are praying for a friend of family member to be well, imagine Jesus healing them. If you are praying for your child to know the Lord or return to Him, imagine him or her running into His arms. If you are praying for peace within your own life, imagine yourself relaxed in the presence of Christ. When your pastor or priest is praying, instead of following the words in your head or mentally checking out, imagine them.
I’ve also found it helpful to fight images with images. For example, when I first came home from the hospital with Luke, I was afraid of falling with him in my arms or accidentally dropping him. He seemed so tiny and fragile. The image of that very terrible possibility would immediately pop into my head out of nowhere. It helped me to respond by imagining Luke safe and sound in my arms. In that way, I was praying back to the Lord what I was hoping for. It worked much better than me using words to fight an image.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, words just aren’t enough. Sometimes, we get stuck in praying words that we aren’t even meaning. Try praying with images this week and let me know how it goes!
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26 ESV