Come and See: The Invitation of Imaginative Prayer

“Come and see . . .”

These may just be my favorite words in the Bible today. I say today, because maybe other words will hold that distinction tomorrow. For today, “Come and see” sends a breath of life into my heart.

These words are an invitation to not know now. I am invited to discover. I am invited not to certainty but to explore and to experience, to taste and see for myself.

I find my own questions echoed in these stories about Jesus.

“Who are you, Jesus?”

“Where are you going?”

“What must I do to come fully alive, to really participate in the life you are inviting me to?

These are good questions. To really truly ask these questions and to honestly seek these answers won’t lead me to an exhaustive list of doctrine. The question “Who are you, Jesus?” is not a test with a pass or fail answer.

Each question is an invitation:

Come find.

Come see.

Come experience for yourself.

/ / /

There is life and transformation in the seeking. Maybe that’s why we are invited to follow. Maybe that’s why Jesus always seems to be slipping out of sight.

/ / /

Maybe you come to this season of Lent, these days leading to the Easter celebration, and you feel anxious because the answers you thought you knew about Jesus and God and the Bible no longer make sense. Maybe you were born a Baptist like I was, and you don’t quite know what to do with this season. How do you mark it? How do you let it mark you? Maybe you are comfortable with both your ideas of who Jesus is and this season of fasting and celebration.

The question “Who are you Jesus?” can be for any of us. The invitation “Come and See” can be for any of us. I think it’s a beautiful way to spend this next month or so.

One powerful way of engaging this question is through imaginative prayer. Ignatius of Loyola built an entire intensive retreat around this way of praying and engaging with the stories of Jesus. This retreat has been transforming lives for over 500 years. It’s powerful. You don’t need to undertake the retreat in order to experience this way of praying though.

In imaginative prayer, rather than reading scripture for information or knowledge or seeking to apply it to your life, you let yourself into the story. Pick a short passage or story. Read it slowly. Invite God to use your imagination to invite you into the story.

What do you see? What do you hear? What is going on around you? Who are you in the story? Does Jesus talk to you? What does he say? Do you talk to Jesus? What do you say? What is happening inside of you? How do you find your story in Jesus’ story? How do you find Jesus in your story?

Some people can visualize these stories like they are in the middle of a movie. Others may hear the story more than see it. Others might just feel it. There’s not one right way to imagine. How does it work for you?

You may want to journal about your experience. Sometimes, I’ll write a letter to Jesus about what happened in the story. Then I’ll write a letter to me from Jesus. This is just another way of letting the Spirit work through my imagination. It’s another way of experiencing the story for myself. It’s one way of letting God move the stories and the words from our minds to our hearts, which is where transformation happens.

/ / /

Below are some of my favorite “Come and See” stories. What do you find when you slip into these stories?

John 1:35-42 (Jesus calls Andrew)

Luke 19:1-9 (Zacchaeus)

John 20:24-27 (Thomas)

Mark 10: 13-16 (Jesus and the children)

Mark 1: 9-11 (Jesus’ Baptism)

Mark 2:13-17 (Jesus calls Levi)

Mark 10: 17-27 (The Rich Young Man) What happens when you ask Jesus what you must do to Really Live? Can you ask that question?

Mark 10:46-52 (Jesus asks blind Bartimaeus “What do you want me to do for you?”) How do you answer when Jesus asks you that question?

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