Imaginative Reading: “Called to the Deep”

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
Psalm 42:7

The Shallow to The Deep

Start by being silent. Just be still and listen for God’s voice.
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Picture the ocean. What does the shallow mean to you? Is it a place of relief or invitation? What areas in your life feel like they are in the shallow? What causes you to linger in that place?

The shallow water is refreshing and safe, a bit sandy but cool as it trickles over us. It is there we may discover a sense of invitation, of longing. Perhaps this is what the psalmist means when he says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” (Ps. 42:1).

Do you have a sense that God is calling you to leave the shallow and take a step into the unknown, the whitewater, the waves, the deep? What journey are you on or what stands before you? There may be fear of the vast ocean before you, but do you have a sense of what God might be calling you into; where he may be calling you to deepen your faith and press in?

Jesus Calms the Storm

The story of Jesus calming the storm is found in Matthew 8:23-27. Read through this passage slowly multiple times, picturing yourself in the story and asking yourself the following questions:

• Where or who are you in the story?
• What are your feelings about the storm?
• What emotions are you experiencing?

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” - Matthew 8:23-27

After reading the passage slowly a few times, spend some time being still. Don’t try to manufacture answers at this point - just be still and listen.
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Now ask yourself the following questions:

• What stands out to you?
• What storms has Jesus allowed in your life?
• Explore your feelings about the storms and how/why you may or may not have cried out to Jesus.
• How did (or didn’t) he respond to you? To the storm?
• Is there a storm in your life right now? Does Jesus seem to sleep while you endure it, or is he active and present with you in it?
• What does God have for you in the waves? Is there something He may want to purge or bring to your attention in order to mature you; to grow your faith in Him?
• Jesus rebuked the disciples for a lack of faith in the storm. Do you sense Jesus responding to your cries for help with love, compassion, and patience? Imagine a parent rebuking a child. Can you receive Jesus’ words as such.
• What if God doesn’t stop the storm?
• Is it enough to know He is WITH you, beside you, in the boat with you?

Conclude in silence, listening for God’s voice of promise, love and affirmation that he will never leave you in the storm.

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Following is some scripture to help guide your time... or to come back to later:

• In 2 Samuel 22:5, David says “the waves of death swirled about me”
• Psalm 88:7 says “you have overwhelmed me with all your waves”
• Psalm 107:29 - God “stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed”
• Read Psalm 42. Verse 11 concludes with “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”


What Are You Doing Here? - A Mini Retreat

And through this breeze a gentle, quiet voice entered into Elijah’s ears…
‘Why are you here, Elijah? What is it that you desire?”
1 Kings 19: 12-13
(The Voice)

Practices of Silence and Solitude:

“The practices of solitude and silence give us a place for paying attention to our inner dynamics, to our circumstances and relationships, and to the dynamics of our relationship with God so that guidance can come as needed..” - Ruth Haley Barton

Spending time in silence and solitude is an invitation from God to stop doing, rest, notice, experience his presence and listen for his voice. The following guide is just that - it’s a guide. It is not a mission to accomplish or a task to overcome. We will explore Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 19, but you are welcome to utilize as many or as few of the following resources as you feel invited. What is God’s invitation to you today? Like Elijah, you may hear God asking “what are you doing here?”

Steps for entering the practice of silence and solitude:

As we enter a time of silence and solitude, it can be difficult to put aside distractions. Following are some practical steps and questions to consider. You may want to walk or sit and be still. Do whatever is most comfortable to you and will allow you to set aside distractions and experience a sweet time with God.
1. Notice your physical state.
2. Get comfortable - breathe deeply.
3. Rest. It’s ok to close your eyes and enjoy the warm sunshine - you may just be exhausted.
4. Calm and quiet your soul.
5. Stop, acknowledge the truth about yourself and rest in God’s presence - don’t try to fix or judge.
6. Notice what is true.
7. What concerns or questions occupy your thoughts?
8. What is the condition of your soul?
9. Where do you hurt?
10. What joys or successes are you celebrating?

Scripture Meditation:

Today we will journey with Elijah through the wilderness as he seeks God’s presence. Start by reading the following passage slowly. You may want to read it more than once or in another translation.

1 Kings 19:1-18 (ESV)

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Reflection:

Reflection is fixing our thoughts in careful consideration. Following are some questions for reflection; considerations to ponder with God. You may want to journal or talk out loud to God. Follow his invitation - he longs to hear from you.

Exhaustion (1 Kings 19:4-8):

• Imagine yourself in the place of Elijah. He’s running for his life, in fear and total exhaustion. There is a difference between “good tired” and “dangerous tired”. Can you recognize the difference? Where do you find yourself today?

• How did Elijah’s time under the Broom Tree impact you? Do you connect with his exhaustion? What are you feeling? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually? What are you carrying? What is your longing? Share your thoughts with God.

The 1st Question: “What are you doing here ___________?” (1 Kings 19:9-10):

• Elijah again finds rest in a cave. While there he hears God’s voice ask, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”
• Elijah calls out the good, the bad and the ugly:
- Elijah declared his passion for the Lord.
- Elijah laments that the people he had been called to lead had gone astray.
- Elijah felt scared and alone.
• Call out your own answers to God. Make it personal. God longs to hear from his children.
- I declare or affirm…
- I lament or regret…
- I feel...

The Storm: (1 Kings 19:11-12):

Just as everything starts to feel calm and peaceful, imagine the gentle breeze turning into a fierce storm. Dark clouds gather and swirl around the mountain. The ground beneath you starts to shake. Rocks and boulders start tumbling down the mountainside. Everything feels unstable. Does this resonate within your own life?

What storms are facing today? What pain, sorrow, or fear are you feeling? Be honest with God and be honest with yourself.

The 2nd Question: “What are you doing here ___________?” (1 Kings 19:12-13):

Elijah likely didn’t expect what happened next. The storm passes and he hears God’s voice in a whisper, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

Imagine God speaking to you in a gentle whisper calling your name, asking you, “My child, what are you doing here?” God invites us to deeper levels of self-awareness. A place where we are free to express the full truth: our desperation, desires and deepest longings.

You may want to respond to God, repeating what you said before. Possibly this question asked a second time has stirred more thoughts and emotions. Or maybe God is just inviting you to be still in his presence? Listen.

Practicing Presence

“Solitude eventually offers a quiet gift of grace, a gift that comes whenever we are able to face ourselves honestly: the gift of acceptance, of compassion, for who we are as we are. As we allow ourselves to be known in solitude, we discover that we are known by love. Beyond the pain of self-discovery there is a love that does not condemn us but calls us to itself. This love receives us as we are.” - Parker Palmer

“When Elijah experienced ‘the sound of sheer silence’ that was full of the Presence of God, there was no need for words or any kind of cognitive response. He wrapped his face in his mantle- a sign of absolute reverence - and he went out and just stood in that Presence. He let the Presence wash over him.” - Ruth Haley Barton

Spend some time just sitting in God’s presence, basking in the sweetness of his love for you. Allow his presence to wash over you.

Hearing God’s Voice

“For only when we know the love of God in a deep, experiential way can we be truly open and receptive to his will. Without this knowing it is hard to listen openly for the still, small voice of God, because we are afraid of what we may hear.” -Ruth Haley Barton

What did you hear God saying today? What is he calling you to? Elijah rested, he was nourished, he listened for God’s voice, he called out his anguish and he experienced God’s presence. Yet God did not intend for Elijah to stay in solitude. God instead gives Elijah clear directions regarding what he was to do next.

Small Groups:

“Whether we have been away for a half an hour of solitude, had an extended retreat time or have dropped completely out of sight for a while, God, in his time, does eventually bring us back to the life he has given us. Perhaps nothing in our external circumstances has changed, but we have changed, and that’s what our world needs more than anything.” - Ruth Haley Barton

Directions: Take some time to connect with others in small groups. Share and reflect on what God revealed to you during your time with him. This is not intended to be a time of working your way through a list of questions, but rather honestly sharing what God is doing in your own soul with other spiritual friends. As a community of believers we have the amazing opportunity to encourage and pray for each other on our spiritual journeys.

• Share your experience - no judgment, no “me too” - just let the person talk
• Ask clarifying questions
• Notice and affirm how God has worked in each others lives
• Lift each other up in prayer

Suggested Small Group Questions:

These questions are only a guide. Working through all of them would take a long time. Start by reading through the questions and notice which ones stand out to you. Share from this place - everyone has their own story.
1. What did you notice?
2. What if any distractions did you experience? How did you deal with them?
3. How did you experience God? Are there any words or phrases that help you articulate your experience with God?
4. Did you feel resistance? Or Desire? Did they occur at the same time?
5. What cares or concerns prevented you from being fully present with God?
6. Where do you see yourself on the “good vs. dangerously tired” continuum? How do you care for your physical body? Did you hear God calling you to take some steps to become more physically healthy?
7. What emotions came to the surface?
8. Did you find yourself becoming more clear about what you want and need from God? Is there an area where you need guidance?
9. What are your usual “escapes” when you feel empty?
10. Is there a truth about yourself that you need to face bravely?

Next Steps…

For some, today may have created an awareness of depletion and a need for real rest. In Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton discusses the difference between “good tired” and “dangerous tired”. “Good tired” is what we experience following a job well done; a task where we are able to live out of the fullness of who God has created us to be.

“Dangerous tired” is a sense of feeling like you are on the verge of being out of control, an inability to relax and it may be masked by excessive activity. For some, this dangerous tired can lead to escapist behaviors because we are too tired to choose real life giving activities. Being dangerously tired may cause us to avoid real emotions for fear of never being able to recover from what we discover.

If you are finding yourself dangerously tired, or are teetering on the brink of such, start by sharing honestly with God. He can handle it! Then share with a trusted friend. We were created for relationships - both with God and with others. When was the last time that you went for a walk, invited God’s presence and just noticed? Noticing happens through listening, without talking. It happens when we observe details in God’s creation that we are typically too busy or rushed to see. Or when was the last time you picked up a book, sat outside enjoying our insanely beautiful Southern California weather and just soaked in God’s truth?

Following is a list of recommended books that can provide nourishment for your soul and move you towards the peace and contentment that God so longs for you to experience:

1. The Bible: 66 books of perilous adventures, romance, dramatic poetry, extraordinary miracles, and unfathomable hope, joy, and freedom!

2. Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton

3. Surrender to Love by David Benner

4. What does your Soul Love? by Gem and Alan Fadling


Pondering to Prayer

All who have faith in the Eternal stand as Mount Zion:
unmoved, enduring, eternal.
Psalm 125:1

Ponder or Prayer?

Think back on the last day or two. Is there something in particular you can identify that has been weighing on your mind? Something you were pondering? Did you give yourself permission to ponder it further? Does your pondering ever turn into a conversation with God?

The English word “ponder” comes from the Latin word pondus (meaning weight) - As a verb, it suggests the mental activity of weighing or considering something (like a scale). It is a reflective way of thinking. When we ponder something we hold it carefully and give it space. We turn it around and look at it from various angles; we ruminate on it, thinking about it repeatedly and often casually. It isn’t about being efficient but about considering all of the various aspects.

Go for a walk and pick up an object that catches your eye - maybe a pretty leaf or a small stone. Hold it in your hand and ponder it for a minute. What do you see? What do you not see, but as you ponder could still be true of the object?

Now consider the thought or concern that has been weighing on your mind. How is it impacting you? Do you talk to God about it? Has it or could it be turned into prayer?

“Pondering becomes prayer when reflection arises in a mind that is open to God.” (p. 88)

“Pondering prayer is responding to the invitation to bring your mind, heart and imagination to your communion with God.” (p. 104) From “Opening to God” by David Benner

If you feel inclined, write down the thought or concern that has been pressing on your soul:
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Psalms of Ascent

The Psalms of Ascents were prayers sung out by the Israelites as they made the long journeys to Jerusalem three times a year, multiple times throughout their lives. Could the Psalms of Ascent have been ponderings by the Israelites that turned into prayers and songs?

• When was the last time that something that was occupying your mind; something that you were pondering, turned into a prayer or a song of worship?

• Are your ponderings typically just musings that become distractions or are they becoming an opportunity to connect with God in prayer?

The Grandeur of the Mountain

At some point in your life, you have likely had the opportunity to experience the grandeur of the mountains. If not, you can’t help but know that we are surrounded by mountains just living in Escondido.

• Take a moment, close your eyes and picture the tallest mountain you have ever seen; whether in person or on a documentary. What does the picture of a mountain communicate to you? Identify some feelings, dreams or even fears that may come to mind.

• Share some of your ponderings about mountains with God.

Solitude

Take only this sheet to a quiet place and spend the next 30-40 minutes in solitude with God. Try to stay focused on just being with him, reading his words and allowing your ponderings to become prayers.
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Psalm 125

Start by being silent. Just be still and listen for God’s voice.
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Read through Psalm 125 slowly, pondering the words and allowing them to penetrate your heart. Don’t try to come to any conclusion. Just allow God to speak to your soul.

1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!

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Read Psalm 125 a second time. What words stand out to you? Read slowly and allow yourself the time to reflect on those words.

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Read Psalm 125 a third time and ask yourself the following questions:
• What stands out to you?
• What emotions were stirred by the words that stood out to you?
• Was there something that you pondered that could be turned into a prayer or a conversation with God?
• Do you feel any resistance? Is it difficult to allow your ponderings to turn to prayer?
• Talk to God about these ponderings in honest prayer.
• Conclude in silence, listening for God’s voice of promise, love and protection.

This week…

Following are more Psalms ready and waiting for further reflection. Consider spending 30 minutes each day for the next week, reflecting on the following Psalms using the format above.

Psalm 14, 15, 19, 49, 90, 123, 128


Prayer of Lament

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?
Psalm 6:2-3

Purpose of Lament:

To take my complaints, anger, sufferings, frustrations and heartaches to God, and in so doing, rediscover a loving Father, Abba, who deeply cares and can be fully trusted.

“To fully grieve is to allow your losses to tear apart feelings of false security and safety and lead you to the painful truth of your brokenness and dependence upon God alone.” - Henri Nouwen

“Lament is a persistent cry for salvation to the God who promises to save, a prayer that in a situation of suffering or sin, is lifted, in the confident hope that God hears and responds to cries and acts now and in the future to make whole. Lament calls upon God to be true to God’s own character and to keep God’s own promises with respect to humanity.” - Rebekah Eklund

“The practice of lament is one of the most theologically informed actions a person can take… Lament talks to God about pain. And it has a unique purpose: trust. It is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence in God… Lament is the language for living between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty. It is a prayer form for people who are waiting for the day Jesus will return and make everything right.” - Mark Vroegop

“Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart.” - Ann Voskamp

Practicing Lament

Pray aloud a Psalm of Lament:
 Individual: 3-5, 10, 13, 17, 22, 25, 28, 31, 39, 42, 43, 52-57, 59, 61, 64, 70, 77, 86, 142
 Communal: 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 85, 90, 94

Allow these prayers to become your own. Use them to channel your own frustrations, disappointments, and sorrows into a posture of self-abandonment to God.

Steps of Lament:

1. Turn to God: Lament talks to God even if it’s messy.

2. Complaint: Biblical complaint vocalizes circumstances that do not seem to fit with God’s character or purposes. When it seems injustice rules, lament invites us to talk to God.

3. Ask: Asking in lament seeks more than relief; it yearns for the deliverance that fits with God’s character. Repeated requests become hopeful reminders of what God can do. Asking boldly serves to strengthen our resolve to not give up, and encourages us to embrace the destination of all lament: a renewal of trust.

4. Trust: Laments help us through suffering by directing our hearts to make the choice to trust in God’s purposes hidden behind the pain. They lead us through the sorrow towards trust and praise.

Write your own Prayer of Lament:

1. Address God: Name his attributes, his relation to you (Father, Abba, Savior, etc) and recall his promises or past deeds on your behalf.

2. Complaint: Write out a heartfelt complaint that describes the suffering you are seeing or experiencing in honest and vivid terms.

3. Confession: Confess your trust in God even if you don’t feel it.

4. Pray for Deliverance: Plead the merits of Christ, appeal to his honor, cry out for deliverance and ask God to intervene.

5. Thanksgiving: Express to God your thankfulness that he hears you.

Steps forward in Lament (by Frederick Schmidt):

1. Prayers of lament register our awareness of the disparity between our life’s circumstances and God’s will. Lament sharpens our moral and spiritual senses, alerting us to the distance between our circumstances and God’s loving will for us.

2. Lament prompts us to explore the nature of the loss experienced. A place where the full weight of the loss can be felt.

3. Prayers of lament create an opportunity for us to identify with the loss of others, or appeal for companionship in our own loss. Healing work of the body of Christ which becomes a source of refuge and strength in the middle of it.

4. They can mobilize us. The logic of Prayers of Lament prompts us to consider the will of God, which provides a way forward if we are prepared to listen for what we learn there.


Practicing Gratitude

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise
to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:1-2

Gratitude:

Practicing gratitude is similar to practicing the Examen. It is looking back over your day, week, month or more and noticing blessings that God has bestowed in your life and the lives of others. Yet, having a heart of gratitude does require practice.

“If we have truly known God’s heart for us, how can we not raise our hands in thanksgiving to Him?" -Ann Voskamp

“It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.” -Brene Brown quoting a Jesuit Priest

“Practicing gratitude is two-fold. First, it is an affirmation of goodness. Second, it’s a recognition that the source of goodness is outside of ourselves.” - Dr. Robert Emmons, Psychologist

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” - Hebrews 12:28

Practices that Cultivate a Heart of Thanksgiving

As you enter this season of Thanksgiving choose one of the following to practice each day as a means of worship to God and thanking him for his goodness.

Pray aloud a Psalm of Thanksgiving:

Psalm 7:17, 28, 30, 44:4-8, 57, 69:29-36, 89, 92, 95, 111, 138

Practical Steps to Practicing Gratitude:

1. Make a habit of remembering: Psalm 77:11
• “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Share with others about the blessings you have received." - Psalm 105:2
• “Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.”

2. Keep a gratitude journal: Psalm 103:2
• “Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”

3. Pray for a grateful heart.

4. Ask God to help you to notice the goodness that surrounds you; to open your eyes to his blessings.

Journal your Gratitude:

Consider the following questions then journal your gratitude.

• Name a highlight in your day.
• Where did you see God work today?
• What made you smile today?
• What made you grateful today?
• What are you learning about yourself?
• What are you learning about God?
• Recall a time when you felt encouraged.
• Recount an answered prayer.
• What do you love most about your spouse? Family? Friends?
• What luxury are you thankful for?
• What challenge have you overcome?
• Recall a favorite childhood memory.
• What is your favorite song? Food? Place to find rest?
• What attribute of God is most significant to you?
• Where do you notice God?

Noticing:

Noticing is a far too infrequently utilized practice. Noticing draws our attention to the creation that surrounds us and the Creator who has formed a beautiful tapestry of goodness, mercy and grace right before our very eyes. Noticing takes our attention off of ourselves and invites us into the presence of the Almighty.

• Go for a walk outside. Try not to think about anything in particular - just notice.
• Breathe deeply and slowly.
• Listen.
• Smell.
• Look.
• Feel.
• Ask God to reveal himself.
• Call out names of God.
• Call out his blessings.
• Be still and know.


Examen

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24

Practicing The Examen

This five-step Daily Examen is based on the one described by St. Ignatius Loyola in his “Spiritual Exercises,” perhaps the most influential book about prayer ever written.

Step 1. Become aware of God’s presence.

Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you — a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding, to show you where He was at work in each situation.

Step 2. Review the day with gratitude.

Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights.

Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive and what did you give? Pay attention to small things — the food you ate, the sights you saw and other seemingly small pleasures. God is there in the details.

Step 3. Pay attention to your emotions.

One of St. Ignatius’ insights was that we can detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day.

Did you feel boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying to you through these feelings?

In this reflection, God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Be sure to make note of these sins and faults. But look deeply for other implications as well.

Are you frustrated? If so, perhaps this means that God wants you to consider a new direction in some area of your work.

Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you could reach out to him/her in some way.

Step 4. Choose one feature of the day and pray about it.

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling, positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant.

Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer that it provokes to arise spontaneously from your heart, whether it’s intercession, praise, repentance or otherwise.

Step 5. Look toward tomorrow.

Present your “holding word” to God.

Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up.

Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer.

Seek God’s guidance. Ask Him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.

Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for His protection and help. Ask for His wisdom, too, about the questions you have and the problems you face.

Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is adorned with gifts from God.

Talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus.


Holding Words

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10, 13

“It’s so hard for many of us to encounter things we can’t fix…That’s the trouble with living in a broken world. The problems are simply too vast and our solutions are, at best, half-vast… But note how God seems to relate to these vast problems. God’s response seems to be to come alongside those who are suffering and hold their pain, not eliminate it. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for fixers. Perhaps it’s an invitation to stand with God in holding things that we can’t fix. But, this is where the real miracle enters this process–in that holding we become shaped in the image of Compassion. Maybe that’s the ultimate point of the encounter with unfixable realities.” – David Benner

Consider:

What are you holding today? This may be a burden or it may be a dream…

Are you trying to hold onto it tightly, do your own fixing or fulfill your own plan?

What would it feel like to release these things to God, stand with him, and allow him to hold what is weighing you down?

Share:

In your heart, share with God whatever you are holding. What is God calling you to that you long to hold out to him?

Ask God to give you a word that describes what you are holding.

Open your hands and picture that thing sitting there, waiting for God to come alongside and carry that burden or dream with you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24