open bible on beach“My soul rests in God alone,” says Psalm 62:2.


Is this true? Does my soul rest in God alone? Do I know how to release the what-ifs and the how-longs and the whys to God? Or do I gut it out and keep going with a ragged edge of restlessness wrapped around my hurried soul?


Do I even know what rest is? Is it leisurely pursuits and hobbies that look like “nonwork” yet often crowd my days more than my daily work does? Is it saying I’ll Sabbath on Sunday, but fill it up more than any ordinary Monday?


Rest might be something we fall into from a place of utter exhaustion OR a place we begin from that offers utter delight.


I desire rest to be the atmosphere of my being: a place of calm soul repose and deep joy amid the everyday details of life.


Jesus knows we need rest, rest of His kind, and He’s good at inviting us into it.

    • Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. –  Matthew 11:29, NIV
    • Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. –  Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)


Reading these verses in Matthew, we discover Jesus is quoting from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah:woman along sandy beach

This is what the Lord says:

‘Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” – Jeremiah 6:16, NIV


Rest is what we all need, yet it’s often the last thing we know how to find. What does it look like to find rest for our souls?


In my 40s and 50s, single parenting three terrific teenagers amid an unwanted divorce while also attending seminary, I also became the caregiver for my ailing parents. Rest was not anywhere on the menu. YET Jesus set a feast of rest for me in that long seventeen-month season of being stretched thin.


Over these last five years while in my late 60s and early 70s, I’ve unexpectedly found myself again in a stretched-thin season. In such a time, soul rest, body rest, emotional rest, relational rest, creative rest, and work rest could be rare.


Once again Jesus sees me. He knows my days and my ways. With such deep kindness, He sets a feast of rest for me daily, if I’ll but partake of it.


I crave the quiet beauty of time before dawn, when I wake to the gaze of Jesus beholding me with deep affection. In turn, I gaze back at Jesus, feeling the edges of my soul becoming satiated as I rest with Him.

Morning’s hush hovers holy. I desire more depth with Jesus, Father, and Spirit. Here I sit, hungry for a feast of rest.


One wonderful practice enhances this depth of dialogue and experience that leads my soul to rest at many levels in seasons of suffering, lament, and loss. Having discovered imaginative prayer—Gospel Contemplation— during soul care training at seminary, it continues to provide pauses in which to explore the invitation to rest with Jesus.


Imagination and prayer constitute key parts of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, a way to pray through the life of Christ while noticing my own life in reflection. By allowing my sacred imagination to immerse me in a scripture moment, I engage all my senses, enter the scene before me, and find room for conversations that lead to deeper intimacy with the Trinity. God’s playfulness, God’s kindness, and God’s wisdom show up. He brings forth images and memories from my own story as I engage with familiar stories in the Bible.


The Spirit of the Living God allows my imagination to widen as He reveals more about Himself and about me.


So, what does it look like to experience Gospel Contemplation as a way to pray with our sacred imagination?

    • Take a few deep breaths, allowing God to guide you.
    • Savor a slow sipping of scripture as you access your imagination through your senses.
    • Open the Bible and set yourself in a scripture passage, any passage.
    • Now dip into your senses, asking God to enliven them as you place yourself in the scene.


Ask yourself:

    • What do I see? – Then notice the crowd, the characters, the places, various objects, the scenery itself, and the face of Jesus.
    • What do I hear? – Be aware of the sound of the wind, the rain, the animals, and the people. Listen in on conversations Jesus has in the story.
    • What do I touch? – Pay attention to what your clothes feel like and how the hot sun and dusty road impacts the moment.
    • What do I smell? – Inhale the fragrance of stew over an open fire and the stench of fish, newly gutted.
    • What do I taste? – Observe the way fresh-baked bread and fruit picked off the trees engages your taste buds.


Take time to let God help you tap into emotions, memories, and questions that arise.

Discern your perspectives of God and yourself in those places.

Let the imaginative prayer time dip in and out of time and space.

    • Where do I feel these same emotions in my daily life?
    • What do I think about God in that moment and in this one?


God gave us imagination as one avenue to enhance our spiritual life and simply be with Him. Imaginative prayer, Gospel Contemplation, offers time and space for drawing near to God.


“My soul rests in God alone,” says Psalm 62:2. I want this to be true of my life, so I will continue to pray and reflect with Jesus, Father, and Spirit around this theme of rest and needed grace in the weeks and months to come.


May Gospel Contemplation, imaginative prayer, become a new spiritual practice as you explore the wonder of rest with the God of rest Himself.


To practice an imaginative prayer exercise utilizing Mark 6:30-32, CLICK HERE and you can download it anytime.

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