Use Preparatory Prayer to ask for God’s help in achieving the objective of this prayer exercise. The stanza of a hymn that relates to the exercise can be used as your preparatory prayer. The following is from the first stanza of “Break Thou the Bread of Life”:
“Break thou the bread of life, dear Lord to me,
as thou didst break the loaves beside the sea:
beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord;
my spirit pants for thee, O living Word.” Amen.
Using Imaginative Contemplation (a type of Mental Prayer), visualize a passage of Scripture, each in its turn, carefully reading the Scripture passage to include all of the details. Come alive to the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the event.
Step into the story so that you become part of the action. Sense the excitement, or sadness. Watch the characters, notice the amazement of the people. See the compassion Jesus has for the people. Let Jesus look into your eyes as though you were there on that day. Feel the love that Jesus has for you now.
Seek to find an insight that you can grasp profoundly. Ask yourself, “What in the text moves me to want to attach myself to Christ?” Try to understand why He takes the actions and says the words that He does. Seek intimate knowledge of Christ.
Be conscious of any consolations (Heart Prayer – peace, joy, praise, urge for self-giving) that you may feel during the prayer period. If you are experiencing Heart Prayer, stay with it as long as it lasts. Recognise it as a gift from the Lord and thank Him.
Assuming that you have been led to an insight that has given you intimate knowledge of Christ and that you consequently feel a deep love for Him, offer a Prayer of Adoration to the Lord.
Using the Prayer of Petition, you may want to ask the Lord to multiply your resources in an area of your life that needs His help. Offer Him your five loaves and two fish, and then give yourself in service to Christ. Seek to do this in a way that comes from the depths of your heart. Repeat your offering several times. Continue by sitting humbly and gratefully in His presence in the Prayer of Rest (rest in His presence, commune with Christ) for several minutes. Do not be surprised or disappointed if your mind wanders. Return to the object of the prayer exercise. Remember, your overall aim is to commune with Christ; that is, to be in a state of intimate, heightened sensitivity and receptivity to Him.
Review your prayer exercise by asking yourself whether any of the activities in which you engaged during this meditation hindered or helped you.
What you may gain from a Prayer Exercise:
“Intimate knowledge of Christ that I might be with Him, become like Him, live for Him.”
These three prepositions, with, like,for, help maintain perspective. They express the essential sequence of steps necessary for the spiritual life.
- Time with Christ
“He appointed twelve… that they might be with Him.”
- Growth in becoming like Christ
“And we, who… contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory”
2 Corinthians 3:18
- Service offered for Christ
“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”
2 Corinthians 5:15
Adapted and updated from a 1990’s paper document. The original was not attributed.