During our next series, Going to My Inner Chapel, members from my launch team will share how they have used wisdom gained from reading my newest book, “The Inner Chapel”, in their daily lives. Today Barbara Swartzel, a Presbyterian Pastor, shares her transformative experience on meditating with the woman who was bent over in the Synagogue.
I’ve never meet Becky in person but reading her book The Inner Chapel was transformative. What I read deeply spoke to me, affirming and putting into words what I sensed but did not have words for. I especially found the exercises at the end of each chapter helpful to work through, speaking to me in new and exciting ways.
The most transformative exercise in the whole book for me was meditating with the story of the woman who was bent over in the Synagogue who Jesus healed (Luke 13:10-17). When I lived out this adventure in my imagination, I became this crippled woman who could only see the floor, carrying a great burden. Jesus asked me what I was carrying, and if he could remove it from me. I found myself unpacking a great sack, filled with very old wounds that I had not realized I was carrying. As I journaled about each of these scars, I saw each one from a different perspective and they all lost their power to wound, and were healed. When I finally finished my time of prayer, I was able to stand tall, and look all around. I was no longer focused on the floor or my wounds! Over the ensuing weeks, I have continued to find even more freedom, and continue to find myself using new ways and patterns of thinking and acting.
It is also a great meditation to use in a group! I was leading a strategic planning session for my congregation , and as they age, they have fallen into the rut of focusing on doing the things they have done before, and are not as quick to ask the question of what God has in mind for us. I led them through this story, and we all came out with a new openness to experiencing God in new ways, and could lift our eyes from the floor to see all sorts of opportunities that God was placing before us. As we have continued to plan for our future, we are beginning to claim the healing God proclaims for us beyond our feet . We can once again think about possibilities for service and reaching out to our community!
This meditation reminded me that we often struggle to look past our own wounds without bringing them to God for healing. We also find that we can get so wrapped up in the details of our lives that we don’t look beyond ourselves. Both of these can cause problems in our relationship with God and also with others. Jesus forgives us and can set us free from all that holds us captive, if we are willing to bring our wounds for healing.
And that is just one of the prayer adventures in this fantastic book! There are so many included in both the chapters themselves, and also in the opportunities lifted up at the end of each chapter.
I keep coming back to this delightful book for more and more new ways to experience God at work in my life as I enter ever more deeply into prayer.
As a Presbyterian Pastor , I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who seeks to deepen their walk with God. It may be primarily directed to a Catholic audience, but there is absolutely no barrier that would prevent any Christian who seeks to deepen their faith and grow in maturity from benefiting from having this book available to refer to regularly.
With the use of this wonderful guide to prayer and daily life, we will all find that what we do flows out of our prayer and will be for the Greater Glory of God.
- Would you also like to pray with the woman who was bent over in the Synagogue? You can listen to a guided imaginative prayer with this scripture here.
- If you would like to use imaginative prayer (which is also known as Ignatian Contemplation) with other scripture passages, you can find the steps to follow here.
- My new book, The Inner Chapel: Embracing the Promises of God is now available! As a sincere “Thank You!” to all of you for your support, my publisher has extended a 30% off code for orders through August 13. Simply go here and use promo code 5207. You can also order from Barnes and Noble and from Amazon.