Toy story (by Sarah Lear)

I once heard a story describing how in a new vicarage, a priest’s children had found a chest of old fashioned toys. These youngsters revelled in a few hours of pleasure without recourse to batteries or screens. This is the delight I feel, and describes my experience, about using the types of prayer suggested by Ignatius, who lived 500 years ago. Ancient and modern.

Imaginative contemplation encourages you to immerse in a bible story and visualise yourself within it. This was revelatory to me and I found myself becoming part of Jesus’s story, watching and growing up with him. It helps to know the stories well, as I do after years of pew hugging and bible studies. Without doubt, my relationship with Jesus has completely altered and deepened by praying like this. Here’s a website which will guide you to audio tracks to help if you, like me, suffer from struggling to keep away the mind monkeys who distract at every turn: Imaginative contemplation

In Ignatius’s daily prayer, the Examen, we invite God to help us reflect on our day by contemplating moments where we feel particularly close to, or far away from, God. One of the best bits is I often remember insignificant moments I commonly accelerate past; a reassuring smile, a joke that made me laugh or the few seconds I paused to be entertained by a robin. By using the Examen, I relive this experience and gain a kind of double blessing from it. No one likes finding things to work on, but the Examen offers a kindly way of noticing the times when I show off, or am arrogant, or waste too long internet browsing or do something which only God and I am aware of, and I can previously avoid even noticing. I hope I’m more generous to myself, and others, because of it. This is a link so you can have a go. Yes, he has an accent but I’ve read his superb book: The Examen

Sarah and husband Chris co-led one of our family houseparties brilliantly for 14 years. Yes, 14 years! She brings fresh ideas to all-age church and is full of creative ways to pray collectively. Chris brings shorts and an enthusiasm for wide games that can't be matched! What a team.