We use our imagination all the time. When we read, when we watch TV, when we are considering the wonderful things in our future and when we are fearing for the worst. We engage our imagination from the time we are less than two years old to when we are heading towards our graves.
Imagination is a God-instilled blessing, but how often do we utilize it for use with God related things?
Jesus used it all the time when he told parables. He sought to engage his listeners in his lessons by engaging their minds and giving them something to hold onto aside from just words. Imagination helped them understand stuff. It does the same for us.
In Richard Foster's book, Celebration of Discipline, he says that "God so accommodates, so enfleshes himself into our world that he uses images we know and understand to teach us about the unseen world of which we know so little and which we find so difficult to understand."
When we are seeking to bring God into this real world around us, our imagination can help us see him here acting and carrying out his will all around us. Since so much of the work God does in our lives is unseen, at least with our physical eyes we have the gift of our imagination to fill in the gaps.
Imagination can change how we read even the simplest lines spoken by Jesus. Take, "Jesus wept." (John 11:35). A powerful idea all by itself, but when we add in experience with grief and try to imagine the depth of pain that he must have felt to "weep" what a different picture we may get.
In prayer, imagination can give us direction as to what to pray for. This is a new one to me, but speaking from experience (albeit new experience) utilizing my imagination has added a new level of sincerity to my prayers for others. Picturing my children grown as I pray for them, or seeing my husband at work as I pray for his day has caused me to pray differently. When I picture the sick person my heart is moved to compassion over, I pray more specifically for them. When I strive to visualize the broken marriage I am praying for, and then what their restored relationship will look like when covered with forgiveness I pray more intensely for that to happen.
I think keeping a mental focus is the most difficult part of prayer for me. Sadly, even while talking to the God of all the world I fall short when it comes to talking to him for more than a moment or two. One thing I have learned is that when I engage my imagination I find it easier to stay mentally in the game. I am not reciting a to-do list, but I am seeing specific details of those requests and giving flesh to my appeal to God.
Do you use your imagination to help you focus, pray or meditate? Share here, or on the Women of Discipline facebook page.