The starting point for learning to simply spend time with God is learning to do this with Jesus. Spending time with Jesus allows us to ground our God-knowing in the concrete events of a concrete life. We do this by means of Spirit-guided meditation on the Gospels. Sometimes our relationship with God is based more on what we believe and know than on what we experience. We have lots of information about God, but we must long to deepen our personal knowing and experiencing of Him.
Gospel Meditation provides an opportunity to enter specific moments in Jesus’ life and thereby share his experience. Shared experience is the core of any friendship. And Spirit-guided meditation on the life of Jesus provides the possibility. This meditation is not the same as Bible study. It is more an exercise of the imagination than of the intellect. It involves allowing the Spirit of God to help you imaginatively enter an event in the life of Christ as presented in the Gospels.
1. Take a moment to quiet yourself in God’s presence.
2. Close your eyes and ask God to take the words of Scripture and, by the power of his Spirit, make them God’s Word to you.
3. Ask the Lord for the gift of a few moments of Spirit-guided imaginative encounter with Jesus.
4. Slowly read the selected Gospel account several times – preferably out loud.
5. Now allow yourself to daydream on the Scriptural situation presented in the story.
6. Allow the pictures of the event to come to your mind and imagination.
7. Watch, listen, and stay attentive to Christ. Don’t be distracted by others in the story.
8. Don’t try to analyze the story or learn lessons from it. Just be present to Jesus and open to your own reactions.
9. At first, it is not unusual to have trouble visualizing things and to feel as though your imagination is stunted. Be patient, and allow the Spirit to enrich the picture by adding other sensory details to what you have read.
10. Don’t be put off with wandering attention. That will happen. As you are aware of this, simply return your attention to the meditation.
11. Sometimes this exercise can feel like a waste of time especially if our orientation is pointed toward completing tasks or being productive and efficient. However, God simply wants our presence even if it feels unproductive to us. That is what friends do together – they waste time just being with each other.
Let Gospel Mediation become a normal part of your prayer life. This is a time of personally meeting with Jesus in the events of His life. The Gospels provide wonderfully rich opportunities to meet Jesus, once we learn how to use them in this manner.