This week around the world Christians, Catholic and Protestant denominations, will begin the liturgical season of Lent by commemorating Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time we contemplate what the life and mission of Jesus taught us about the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a time that we prepare for the Easter mystery of the resurrection. There are many ways people approach the forty days of Lent. Some people give up something or add something to their faith practices that helps them focus on the importance of God’s love in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Various forms of prayer are at the top of the list as ways to focus our faith practices during Lent. This Lenten season Yogadevotion will incorporate Ignatian Contemplative prayer or imaginative prayer with scripture into our physical practice of yoga.
The intention of Ignatian or Imaginative prayer is to meet God through story*. The idea is to become a participant in the story and to continue the story in your heart, mind, imagination, spirit and body as you return to your activities of daily living. This is a prayer form where the Spirit guides the prayer and we try not to force anything to happen.
As we begin, we light a candle to symbolize the invitation to God’s Presence. We suggest students use a flameless LED tea light during Yogadevotion practice. After calming and centering, the story or scripture is read. We pause and then pose three questions to encourage people’s imagination without giving too much direction or detail. This process is repeated before savasana, relaxation pose. The first devotion this week will be a scripture passage on the Kingdom of Heaven. Throughout the rest of Lent, the devotion series will include parables, stories Jesus told to teach us about what the kingdom of heaven is like.
Scripture: “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44
Where do you locate yourself in this story?
What do your senses tell you? Sights, sounds, smells, taste and touch?
What is the mood?
*Resources for instructors:
“Ignatian prayer is imaginative, reflective, and personal. St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged people to develop an intimate relationship with a God who loves them and desires the best for them. Ignatius Loyola trusted human desires. He believed that our deepest desire is to return God’s love. Ignatius Loyola also trusted feelings. He believed that feelings of joy and sorrow, peace and distress, were important indicators of the path toward fruitful decisions and deeper union with God. At the heart of Ignatian prayer are the Spiritual Exercises and the Daily Examen.”
From https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/ accessed 02/20/2020
Seeing is Believing: Experiencing Jesus through Imaginative Prayer
By Gregory Boyd, 2004, Baker Publishing