THEME: Jesus longs to restore my soul.
GRACE: Lord, give me the courage to observe and surrender my inner life.
- In a journal, note the day, time, and place you’re sitting.
- Open with a few moments of silence. Rest, and breathe deeply.
- Complete the following sentence in your journal: Today, I feel ________________.
- Read these words slowly (aloud or silently):
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3a, NIV)
- Pause for a few moments of silence.
- Choose one of the following practices.
Option 1: Reflection – Prayer of Examen [5-30 minutes]
One of the best ways to “excavate” and discover our inner life is the practice of reflection. By prayerfully reflecting on our lives in the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can notice areas where God desires to bring deep healing.
The Prayer of Examen is an ancient tool of prayerful reflection, and can be adapted in many helpful ways. Below are some suggested steps. Take some time to reflect on your last 24 hours and notice what God reveals in your inner life.
- Pause for a few moments of silence and stillness, remembering that God is with you. If it is helpful, recite the verses from Psalm 23 above a few times to help focus your thoughts.
- Remember the last 24 hours, as if you were watching a film of your life from the beginning of your day to the end. As you review, pay close attention to your emotions. Are there any places where you especially experienced peace, joy, calm, etc.? Give God thanks for those moments.
- Now think through your day a second time, and pay attention to any places where you experienced emotions of fear, insecurity, anxiety, anger, loneliness, etc. Don’t judge yourself in these moments, but simply notice them and know that God loves you deeply.
- Choose a moment or emotion that stands out as important or powerful, even if it is small or subtle. Ask the Lord this question: “God, what might you want to teach me in this moment?” Listen quietly and notice what you hear/think in response.
- Now turn your attention to the day ahead, thinking through the events to come. Ask God for His help in moments that will be difficult, and for the grace to walk with Him throughout your day.
Option 2: Reflection – Prayer of Examen [30-60 minutes]
Use the steps in the “Prayer of Examen” listed above to review your previous day. Work through each step slowly, taking 15-30 minutes to complete the entire prayer. When you are finished, answer the following questions in your journal.
- What are your initial thoughts or feelings about the Prayer of Examen? In what ways does it seem awkward or uncomfortable? In what ways does it seem peaceful or refreshing?
- Why do you think it might be important to look back and prayerfully reflect on the events of your day? What might you notice in this practice that you would otherwise miss?
- Why do you think the Prayer of Examen places an emphasis on noticing your emotions? What emotions do you tend to ignore or forget quickly, and why might God want you to pay closer attention to them?
- St. Ignatius encouraged his fellow disciples to pray this prayer twice a day. Would it be helpful for you to pray the Examen regularly? If so, what kind of habit might be life-giving and sustainable in your life?
For helpful resources/variations on the Prayer of Examen, click here.
- Summary: Write a brief summary (five sentences or less) of impacted you most about the prayer of Examen.
- Closing Prayer: Lord, give me the courage to observe and surrender my inner life.
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