Week Six Practices

1. Imaginative Prayer
2. Hospitality

Imaginative Prayer

Use your imagination to place yourself in a gospel story and interact with Christ.


Have you ever felt like the Bible reads more like an ancient rule book than an interactive story? For many of us, the Scriptures have become unbearably boring at worst and overly familiar at best. But, why? This book is supposed to be “alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating, even dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” And yet, the Bible often feels dull, uninspiring, flat… Is there something wrong with the Bible? Or, is it possible that we need to find fresh ways of seeing the Scriptures for what they really are… the most interesting and powerful story ever told! 

There are many different ways to read Scripture, from study and memorization, to prayerful ways of reading like meditation or lectio divina. Another powerful way of reading scripture prayerfully is called Imaginative Prayer. 

Imaginative prayer is a way of meeting with the Lord by using our imagination to enter a Gospel story. Engaging our imagination to experience the sights and sounds of the scene helps to bring our whole selves into the presence of Christ. The purpose of this prayer is to meet Jesus face-to-face and grow in intimacy with Him. Another phrase used for this form of prayer is “Gospel Contemplation.” In his book The Ignatian Adventure, Kevin O’Brien, SJ, says this: 

“Contemplating a Gospel scene is not simply remembering it or going back in time. Through the act of contemplation, the Holy Spirit makes present a mystery of Jesus’ life in a way that is meaningful for you now. Use your imagination to dig deeper into the story so that God may communicate with you in a personal, evocative way.” 

May Jesus Christ, the living Word, become flesh not only in a past event, but in our lives today through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen! 


There are two main ways to practice imaginative prayer. One is to use an audio guide that will lead you through a particular gospel passage. Another way is to guide yourself through reading a passage and praying through it. Below you will find a sample audio guide along with a written guide for leading yourself through imaginative prayer.

You can find more audio guides to imaginative prayers from Pray as You Go and The Practice.

Imaginative Prayer Audio Guide

The Baptism of Christ

Self-Guided Imaginative Prayer

Choose a passage from the Gospels and use this to pray through it.


1) Prayerfully open yourself to God’s presence

2) Read the story for the first time and listen for the broad strokes:

– where and when does it take place
– who are the main characters
– what are they doing
– how do they interact
– what is the mood, the atmosphere

3) Read the story a second time and notice more details. Begin to feel yourself in the story:

– who are you or what are you (you may be one of the characters, an inanimate object, part of the scenery; you may be a person or thing that is not mentioned in the printed story, but that you sense as you hear it read.)

– what are you doing, thinking, feeling

– what are the sounds, the smells, and the other details about the location that you notice

– what are the emotions and the undertones that you notice

4) Read the story a third and final time and experience the story as the person or object that you are in the story.

When the reading ends, let the story continue to unfold in your imagination, mind and heart  for a few minutes.

Close with a few minutes of prayer.
Is there anything that God is speaking to you? Is there anything you want to say to God?



When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50 NIV)


This story shows us what true hospitality looks like. Hospitality is not only inviting someone over for a meal or going out for coffee, but showing immense love and care for those in our presence. How often are we like Simon, who not only was unwelcoming but also was appalled at Christ’s hospitality to the marginalized woman? How might we learn from this interaction between Jesus and the woman who poured out her love without holding anything back?

Dorothy Day reminds us what hospitality really is… “A custom existed among the first generations of Christians, when faith was a bright fire that warmed more than those who kept it burning. In every house then a room was kept ready for any stranger who might ask for shelter; it was even called “the stranger’s room.” Not because these people thought they could trace something of someone they loved in the stranger who used it, not because the man or woman to whom they gave shelter reminded them of Christ, but because—plain and simple and stupendous fact—he or she was Christ.”

What would it look like for us to practice hospitality by welcoming others as we ought to welcome Christ?


Another way to express the idea of “practicing hospitality” is simply “loving strangers.”

In the culture of the new testament, a “stranger” was anyone who was not a family member, even including people who were enemies. Hospitality often involved three things: food, lodging (or being welcomed into a family space), and protection.

So, how might you practice hospitality in one of those three areas?

  • Consider inviting someone over for a meal and treating them like they are Jesus.
  • Consider housing someone in need.
  • Consider offering protection to someone who is vulnerable.

    Remember to always use discretion when inviting strangers into your home. If you live alone, invite another friend or a group to join you. You could also choose to go to a public place for safety reasons.