Praying through Advent: Imagining the Nativity

Praying through Advent: Imagining the Nativity December 24, 2014

3861586189_d8d0d5d8ba_mThis is the final day of Advent. Tonight is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas. We conclude our Advent prayer series right where we began—Praying the Nativity. In today’s imagination prayer, we find ourselves spending time with Mary, the new mother.

Mary is sometimes known as Theotokos, a Greek word meaning “God-bearer.” Each of us helps create and re-create God’s desire in the world, so we are all, in a sense, God-bearers. In this prayer, feel what it is like to be known and loved as a bearer of God.

The Practice

  • Begin by turning your attention to the presence of God in prayer. Ask for the awareness of how God interacts with your imagination.
  • Read the selected portion of Luke’s birth narrative below. In this portion of the narrative, the baby is born, the shepherds have gone and Mary has time to reflect on all that has happened.

Luke 2:19-20

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


  • Imagine all the shepherds have gone but you have been invited to stay for awhile with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. You recognize that Mary may need some time to herself, so you remain silent just outside the door of the stable where you can see Mary but you are not intruding. While she ponders, you reflect as well. What words from the Nativity scenes do you treasure most? What will you hold in your heart?
  • When the time is right, enter the stable and talk with Mary. Ask her what she treasures most. When she ponders the birth of her first child, what does she want to remember? What has been the most exhilarating moment of this whole journey for her? Have a conversation with Joseph as well. You may also want to talk to the baby Jesus.
  • Have a conversation with Mary, Joseph or the baby about anything on your heart.
  • Gaze on Mary as she cares for her baby. Allow the image to draw you deeper into relationship with God.
  • When you are ready, say goodbye to Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Say a prayer of gratitude for this imagination prayer experience.

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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