Praying through Advent: Imagining the Heavenly Host

Praying through Advent: Imagining the Heavenly Host December 19, 2014

3861586189_d8d0d5d8ba_mAs we continue our Advent imagination prayer with Luke’s birth narrative, we spend more time today with the shepherds, angel and the multitude of the heavenly host.

Imagination prayer has a long history.  St. Ignatius of Loyola built his Spiritual Exercises – a set of meditations, reflections and practices to draw a person’s heart deeper toward Christ – on imagination prayers. He invites us to become part of the scene as our minds imagine what it might have been like in Jesus’ time.

The Practice

Luke 2: 12-14

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,  praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors!”

  • Take a few moments to become quiet inside. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you become aware of God’s presence in your imagination.
  • Enter the scene. Become any character you desire—a shepherd, an angel, a passer-by–someone in the story or a character you create. Or you can choose to just be yourself in the scene.
  • Notice where you are—in the fields tending the sheep or near enough to watch the scene unfold.
  • There is an angel announcing the coming of the Christ. Visualize this angel.
  • Suddenly with this angel is a whole group of heavenly bodies. They are all praising God. You listen as they say or sing their words of praise.
  • Imagine this multitude milling about the fields with you and the shepherds.
  • What do you feel inspired to say or do? Start a conversation with one of them? Stand by and gaze at the scene without using words? How do you respond to this glorious multitude?
  • When you are ready, thank all the shepherds, angels and heavenly host for their part in this story. End by spending a few moments in gratitude to God for this experience of prayer.

For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. Most of these prayer practices come from my book 50 Ways to Pray.  If interested, it can be purchased here.


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