Guided Ignatian Contemplation

Meditations on the Gospels to Come Closer to the Heart of Jesus

Christian - Devotion/Study
122 Pages
Reviewed on 09/02/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Dr. Jordan Alexander for Readers' Favorite

I was curious to see how meditation was blended into Lawrence Keller’s book, Guided Ignatian Contemplation: Meditations on the Gospels to Come Closer to the Heart of Jesus. I have tried on more than one occasion to read the Bible and believed that meditation and this book could help me come closer to the ‘heart of Jesus’. I’m so glad I gave it a try! First off, Ignatian contemplation as a ‘form of prayer’ was not something I had ever tried. It involves the reader using their imagination to bring the stories of Jesus to life. Here’s the best part, Keller gets you started as a fantastic guide using warm scenes and colorful passages to take you to different experiences and points in time. Guided Ignatian Contemplation takes you through fourteen other stories right there with Jesus. I found myself appreciating more about the different characters – all real and depicted with their full gamut of human emotions and foibles like pride, humility, and arrogance. Keller’s story choices in Guided Ignatian Contemplation are presented in the order that Jesus lived them. For me, the book was like a crash course in the Bible. The author has done all the heavy lifting, peppering scripture and Old and New Testament references.

I highly recommend Guided Ignatian Contemplation: Meditations on the Gospels to Come Closer to the Heart of Jesus to those that study the Bible as a reference to quickly put yourself into different scenes that you can meditate upon and grow your relationship with Jesus. It is simple but powerful and integrates what you know with more color and diverse perspectives. The book is also great for those with a bit of fear around Bible stories – especially if you've tried and failed on earlier Bible texts that were too hard to follow. Trust Lawrence Keller to take you to delightful new places, leaving you there to mingle with the key actors, including Jesus, and to reflect on passages and verses, where you’ll learn more about the Bible. Keller has found a way to bring peace and calm while learning and reflecting on some of the most famous stories of Jesus’ life. A must-read.

Kristine Zimmerman

Guided Ignatian Contemplation: Meditations on the Gospels to Come Closer to the Heart of Jesus by Lawrence Keller is an excellent introduction to contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer invites us to go deeper into the stories of Jesus by using our imaginations. Each chapter shares one of the gospel stories, and then Keller enhances them by filling in details. For instance, in the multiplication of the loaves, the ebb and flow of the crowd are described as well as what the hillside is like where the people are gathered. Scripture verses that enhance the gospel story are included as well. The chapters follow the life of Jesus from his baptism to just before his crucifixion.

Contemplative prayer is a new practice to me. I found Guided Ignatian Contemplation to be a very useful guide to begin this practice. From the very beginning, at Jesus's Baptism, I was drawn into the sights and sounds of the event. Simple things like imagining the line of people waiting to be baptized to the stream of light illuminating Jesus after his baptism allowed me to interact with a familiar Bible story in a new way. Lawrence Keller does a wonderful job of weaving other scripture passages in with the main gospel story. Being able to flesh out the stories with additional details brings the story to life and showcases the very humanness of Jesus. I would recommend Guided Ignatian Contemplation: Meditations on the Gospels to Come Closer to the Heart of Jesus to anyone looking to deepen their spiritual life.

Daniel P. Douglas

Guided Ignatian Contemplation: Meditations on the Gospels to Come Closer to the Heart of Jesus was a pleasant surprise. As a Baptist, I did not expect much from a book concerning meditation. I was blown away! Guided Ignatian Contemplation by Lawrence Keller is a wonderful book to learn from as one seeks to become closer to Christ. I have practiced the spiritual disciplines for many years, but rarely have my alone times with Christ been so alive. St. Ignatius of Loyola developed the spiritual discipline of Contemplative Meditation. It is amazing. Lawrence Keller has given his readers 18 meditations. He gently guides the reader through each passage, entering into imagining what it might have been like to be an onlooker at the events. Lawrence makes sure to explain the distinctions between Christian meditation and Eastern meditation. The goals are different. Christian meditation has as its primary goal to grow closer to Christ. Come on the journey and see Christ with fresh eyes.

Too many authors on meditation go to the extreme of mysticism. To combat this, many Christian authors go too far to the academic side when it comes to meditation. Lawrence Keller has authored Guided Ignatian Contemplation with the ability to settle in the middle of the road. His style of writing is inviting. He invites his readers to come and rest in the Lord. He uses imagery that engages the senses. Reading these meditations will not just engage your mind but your whole body and soul. They will bring into play all of your senses. There is no mysticism here; just walking, sitting, and standing with Jesus as you listen to, learn from, and even laugh with Him. I highly recommend this book for not only the Catholics I know but for every Protestant seeking a closer walk with Christ. Lawrence’s word pictures are spot-on and fantastic. I loved this book!