Two-way Journaling Combined with St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises

Mark Virkler's picture

Shelley Maw took the course Communion with God way back in 1986 in John and Carol Arnott's church in Stratford. Listen as she tells her story of combining two-way journaling with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.


A game-changer: At that time I began two-way journaling which I continued on and off for many years.  But also because of this course, when I did the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius about 5 years ago, I had an amazing experience of it.  During the first themes of the exercises I was able to have a two way dialogue with God about the themes.  But, new to me - I was also able to fully experience the gospel contemplation portion of the Exercises - and this turned out to be a game-changer for me. Thanks to your course, I was able to enter into the gospel stories with my imagination and without hesitation and fear that this might not be 'okay.'  

In the Spiritual Exercises, the participant is invited to journey through Jesus' entire life and ministry, from his birth and including his death and resurrection - by using our imagination.  As a result of what I learned in Communion with God about flow and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead me in that, in my imagination Jesus and I shared his life, his ministry, his death and his resurrection together as childhood friends.  In 'flow', I chose to enter the gospel stories of Jesus' life as one of Jesus' friends, and as though I was experiencing them alongside Jesus as they unfolded way back then.  The experience transformed my relationship with Jesus and also with the Father God, as I encountered God in quite a different way than I had through years of reading and studying the stories and the scriptures. 

I now carry in my heart memories I made with Jesus as his earth story unfolded.  I saw things in my mind's eye that I never noticed before about the very familiar stories - things like how it might possibly have felt, for Jesus and for the people around him, and how it might have been in real time, without knowing what was going to happen next. I noticed over and over again the gifts of Father God for his human Son.  I saw that things like how my current and very real anxiety and apprehension must have been shared by Jesus' disciples as they walked with him.  

When I began, my spiritual director assured me that what I noticed in the stories and the topics of my imaginative conversations with Jesus would naturally reflect my own current emotions and concerns, and she was so right.  I found the imaginative conversations I had with Jesus were very relevant to my current life situations over and over again. And in my imaginative conversations with Jesus about what was happening (or not happening, or might happen!) my own personality, perspective, empathy, fears and worries came through and I saw myself a bit more clearly, I was able to 'be myself' with my friend Jesus as I reacted and interacted in these life situations, in quite a different and authentic way than I tend to do sitting in my chair trying to pray and study scripture.  Of course then because I was authentic I also encountered Jesus more authentically - as I saw him react to who I am as an understanding friend, and not as a far distant task master GOD that I tended to do so often in my prayer life.  It was like the difference between going somewhere with a friend, or going to sit in a sterile little room and trying to explain to my doctor how I am feeling and what is wrong with me.  A totally different shared experience. 

The feelings of shared experiences with Jesus, the conversations, the time spent together, the understanding between us - all those things deepened my personal connection with Him tremendously.  I feel much more known by him, and that I know him a little bit more.  I have now a tremendous new respect and awe of what it might have been like for Him, as I watched and walked and talked with Him in such a human way as He moved deliberately toward his own execution, all the while loving and caring for those around Him.  In a strange way I am encouraged and inspired to move forward in my own life!  And I saw God the Father; his Father and also mine, in quite a different light than I viewed him before. The number of times I noticed Father God give to, encourage, validate and equip Jesus was revelatory to me. Now, looking back on this, I can see how the Holy Spirit was teaching me about the Father's heart as I walked with Jesus in my imagination!

By way of explanation of the style of my journal entries: Because I am a reader and a writer (in the sense that I process my life best by writing journals about it), I used writing to help me focus and enter a story with my imagination.  I found that sitting quietly and trying to picture a scene in my mind and let it play out didn't work for me - I was too easily distracted by other thoughts.  But when I began to write down the scene and record the action I was able to completely focus and watch the story unfold in front of me as I recorded it.  The added benefit of that is that now I have it all written down and I can go back and re-live and re-learn it again and again.

Examples: Following are a couple of my journal entries of these encounters to encourage others to use imagination as they read the scriptures.  I'll include an introduction and template to the practice of gospel contemplation that I received when I began, concluded by a personal note from me about how I chose to do it for myself.  I found the framework a very helpful guide, as I had done two-way journaling before, but not gospel contemplation. 

Lastly, there are two different journal entries from my gospel contemplation.  The first happened as Jesus left to see John the Baptist and begin his ministry; and I tagged along.  The second is my experience of watching Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.  After both I tried to explain, very briefly, a bit of how that imaginative experience impacted me in my current life.

Thank you, Mark, for 'bringing it' as they say, for putting yourself out there over and over again, for trusting God to use your ideas and teachings to further the journeys of your fellow travelers into God.  You opened a way for me to connect emotionally with my God, which of course has created a heart bond with Him and I; a bond that has changed my life and my way of being.  It is a bond that will never be broken.

Sincerely,

Shelley Maw


Biblical Contemplation Three Part Series - by Shelley Maw

  1. Combining Two-way Journaling with St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises
  2. A Template for Biblical Contemplation
  3. Two Biblical Contemplations - Meeting John the Baptist and Resurrection of Lazarus 

The Treasure Chest – Spirit-Led Prayer Organizer: Devotionals to Meet Your Specific Needs


 

Related Resources: 

How to Hear God's Voice!   

Related Blogs: 

How to Hear God’s Voice   
Add new comment

Comments

Anonymous's picture

It's a shame most of the church has thrown out mysticism--actually encountering God--along the lines of St. Ignatius. 10,000 canonized saints over the course of 2,000 years, many of whom experienced and encountered God first-hand, should speak to the fact that supernaturally hearing from God, and encountering him any number of other ways, should be normal for people. I hate to see people settle for a "stained-glass Jesus" for an hour a week instead of a day-by-day supernatural adventure/lifestyle they are entitled to through Christ.

Anonymous's picture

I agree with what you said about the stain glass affect. I was in that mode for my first 25 years of lfe.I finally said there has to be more! Like Paul said you are stuck eating the milk of the word and you should be eat the meat of the word.when I learned to he God for the first time my eyes were opened to all he had for me and I really am able to thank him like the father he truly is.I hope and pray that he will awaken the whole church to hearing his voice.
Yours in Christ. Frank

Add new comment

Results

Results 1 - 10 of 419

Pages

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?


Price: $$12.95

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice (hard cover)

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages

40% off the suggested retail price!

For the first time EVER! Hardcover copies of 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice. This is a magnificent, beautiful gift to give for any occasion. Retailing at $24.95, you can purchase it through our website at only $15.00! Bless people with the gift of spiritual intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. Get a souvenir copy for yourself. Only 600 copies produced, so order while supplies last!

Price: $$15.00
4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Audio CD Package

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Audio CD Package

By Mark Virkler | 4 Keys book | 10 hours of CDs | LEARN notebook

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?

Price: $$77.85
4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice DVD Package

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice DVD Package

By Mark Virkler | 4 Keys book | 10 hours of DVDs | LEARN notebook

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

Price: $$87.85
Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

9 Books, 10 CDs, 10 DVDs now at a $30+ savings

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

Price: $$175.00
Prayers That Heal the Heart

Prayers That Heal the Heart

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 320 Pages

Prayer counseling that breaks every yoke! Everything you need to experience deep healing of your soul and spirit.

Did you know that you don’t need to be continually plagued by negative thoughts, feelings, pictures or memories?

Price: $$14.99
Hear God Through Your Dreams Workbook Cover

Hear God Through Your Dreams Workbook

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 92 Pages

A new book has just been released that accompanies this workbook: Click here for Hearing God Through Your Dreams by Charity Kayembe and Mark Virkler (featured on Sid Roth's "It's Supernatural", with over half a million views just on YouTube).


Do you often wake up feeling there was a significant message in your dream, but you’re just not sure what it is? Like Daniel and Joseph, do you long to be able to help others understand their own dreams and win them to Christ as you explain His night messages to them? Wouldn't it be nice if you could receive mid-course corrections from the Lord while you sleep? Do you wish you could be receiving divine inspiration, creative solutions to problems, and direction from the Lord during that third of your life that you’re “just” sleeping?

Price: $$11.95

Hearing God Through Your Dreams

by Mark Virkler and Charity Virkler Kayembe | 292 Pages

Learn How to Hear God’s Voice, Even When You Are Sleeping

It is always fun to be on the winning team. Well look what God has done with Charity's new dreams teaching. It has taken off like a rocket with a live TV interview on Cornerstone Network and her Sid Roth interview which has over 850,000 views on YouTube already!

Price: $$14.95

Counseled by God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 146 Pages

Have you ever been defeated by negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, inferiority, condemnation or depression? Have you tried to fight them off unsuccessfully? Is there an answer that is deeper than simply trying to mentally reason yourself out of these emotions? Is there a way that Jesus can speak a word of life into the depths of your emotional despair and bring healing on a deep level? Is there a form of Christian counseling that begins and ends with the movement of Christ within your heart, rather than simply with the words of man?

Price: $$9.95

Everyday Angels

by Charity Virkler Kayembe and Joe Brock 289 Pages

You can partner with Heaven’s angelic hosts!

Do you have guardian angels? Does God want you to know them? Find out what Scripture reveals and how YOU can interact with the company of Heaven!

The supernatural realm permeates our natural world! Therefore, experiencing angels should be an everyday occurrence–we simply need to open our spiritual eyes to their reality and role in our lives.

Price: $$16.99

Pages