The Ignatian Method of Prayer


Think of the Ignatian Method of prayer—named after Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)—as a sort of virtual experience of the scripture where you read the scripture and then create in your mind a short film about what you read. Ignatius of Loyola was known for his remarkable imagination, which was responsible in large part for his conversion to Christianity. While recovering from battle injuries, Ignatius filled a notebook with his thoughts as he read about the life of Christ and the saints. There, he recorded noble ideas of what he might do with his life. These daydreams and imaginings formed the foundation of his future work, Spiritual Exercises.

With Ignatius as our guide, our imagination becomes a way to help us know and love God. As we read a scripture passage (one where real people live a story of faith works best), we become a careful observer of all that takes place. Giving free rein to our imagination, we become both watchers and participants in the story. We feel the heat of the summer sun, smell the dust as we walk along, and sense the desperation of the sick who come to Jesus for healing. And not only do we hear the words recorded in the Gospels, but we also imagine other things Jesus might have said or done. Imaginative prayer—the Ignatian Method—helps Jesus come alive to us.

In the Ignatian Method, you enter into the story so that you can learn more about and participate more fully in the mind, the heart, and the work of Christ. As you read the scripture, reflect on questions such as:

  • What do I see and hear? What do I smell, taste, or touch?
  • Who are the characters and what's going on with them?
  • If I were in this movie, what role would I play?
  • If I were Jesus in this story, what would I be thinking, feeling, saying?

Try It Out

Pick one of the following scriptures and see where your imagination takes you.