As we approach Easter Sunday, I hope we each can pause to visit Jesus’ time on the cross and then experience the true hope of resurrection for Easter.  I know I certainly need to remind myself this year of the hope of Easter resurrection and how death is not the end, only the beginning of new life.

Imaginary prayer can remind us of the hope of Easter, the hope that Sunday brings.  How can we use our imagination in prayer?

How to use your imagination in prayer

When you get ready to use your imagination, it may not be what you think it is. It is not pretending or making up something that is not as true as you meet with Jesus. For example, picture for a moment, someone who is special to you. Try to imagine that person vividly, with color, details, even placing them in the last place you saw them. Are you making them up or recalling to mind someone who is alive and real?

The same is true as you read the scenes in the Bible, asking God to help you perceive the details He has picked out for you. You are envisioning the story so it becomes real to you. Therefore Jesus becomes real as well. The whole story of Passion Week lets us imagine scenes in Jesus’ life and place ourselves there as well.

Imagine the Friday before the Sunday

Good Friday is a time of sorrow, grief and in many ways, horror.  Can you put yourself in the disciples’ place as they watched things unfold before their very eyes?

Jesus arrives on Palm Sunday triumphantly, to the cries of Hosanna, Hosanna, yet not even a week later, things look very grim.  The minds of the disciples must be swimming.

“What is going on?” “This isn’t the way it is supposed to be.” “What will we do?”

In imaginary prayer, we select passages that we can then “see” in our minds’ eye and place ourselves into the scene.

Put yourself in the following scene from Luke 23:26-42 NLT.  Read it aloud and notice the sights and sounds.

The Crucifixion  As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene,happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. …..

32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

What did you notice?  What smells, textures, voices did you notice?

Read it again this time, seeing yourself in the scene.  Who are you and where are you standing? What emotions are you experiencing?

And finally, read it a third time, asking for what Jesus wants to say to you in the scene?

Imagine the Sunday after the Crucifixion

After the horror of the crucifixion, it is the Sabbath so the disciples, along with Mary, Jesus’ mother and other close women gather together, awaiting Sunday when they can return to the tomb.

Picture this gathering in your mind.  Especially after this year of loss, this could be a very fresh picture for you.  Lament and tell God exactly how you feel about these losses.  The community becomes so important during this time, even if distanced.

Luke 24:1-8 NLT tells us what happened that Sunday morning:

24 But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.

Again read this passage three times and place yourself at the tomb.

The first time, what did you notice?  What smells, textures, voices did you notice?

Read it again this time, seeing yourself in the scene.  Who are you and where are you standing? What emotions are you experiencing?

And finally, read it a third time, asking for what Jesus wants to say to you in the scene?

You may wish to continue reading all of Luke 24 as Jesus appears to all of them.

Now What?

We know what happened.  Jesus arose from the dead and we know we will rise from the dead, the hope of Easter.  We can have hope now, no matter what, that we live in the not yet.  Death in so many ways is the beginning of expanded time with God.

We have hope for now because He is here with us and we have hope for after dying because we get to start a new life with Him in heaven.

How glorious a celebration of the hope of Easter truly is.

I hope you can imagine the thrill for the disciples when they saw Jesus up walking, truly resurrected.  That can be your thrill, too.

Blessings to you this Easter.

Nancy

As a spiritual director, I walk with people who want to hear and see God more clearly in their lives. If this post is helpful to you, could you share it with others?  Or if there is a way that I can be praying specifically for you, would you reply to this post?  I want to be of service to you in your life and the lives of others.  I look forward to walking with you in the world “for such a time as this.”


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