Day 50: Introducing “Examen”
Our breath prayer for today: As you inhale, whisper, “We remember Your loving-kindness…” As you exhale, whisper, “…and cling to hope.”
Slowly read aloud the following Scripture passage
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
His merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
life is heavy and bard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don ‘t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The worst” is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return.
If He works severely, He also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way:
Stomping down hard on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence— the Master does not approve of such things.
Who do you think “spoke and it happened”?
It’s the Master who gives such orders. Doesn’t the High God speak everything, good things and hard things alike, into being?
And why would anyone gifted with life complain when punished for sin?
Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.
Let’s lift our hearts and hands at one and the same time, praying to God in heaven….
(Lamentations 3:19-42, MSG)
For further exploration:
Videos: http://scripture.live/LamentationsExplainer http://b.linWExamenExplainer http://b.link/Pain2Possibility
Amazing Father, we thank You for preparing us for Kingdom work through the spiritual discipline of Examen. Thank You for drawing us into a more intimate relationship with You through the practice of these disciplines. We will sing songs of joy to You. We will sing a new song of praise to You and play skillfully on the harp. Your Word, Lord, holds true and we can trust everything that You do. You love whatever is just and good; Your unfailing love fills the earth. We put our hope in You, Lord. You are our help and our shield. In You do our hearts rejoice, for we trust in Your holy Name. Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.
Holy Father, You loved the world so much that You gave Your only begotten Son as Redeemer sacrificed on the altar of the cross, freeing all believers from slavery to sin. We will examine ourselves and confess our sins to You, that we may be forgiven. In our homes, we and our families vow to serve You alone. We will carefully examine our homes, just as we examine ourselves, to be certain that there is no unclean thing that would separate us from Your Presence.
Holy Spirit, as we study God’s Word, instruct us in preparing for the Spring Feasts. Bring to our remembrance areas in our lives that need to be transformed in order to be cleansed of sin or idolatry. Help us to develop a greater appreciation for the blessings the Father has given us. Father, bless our families and enlarge our territories so that we may have even more to bring back into Your Kingdom. Help us to share our experience with the practice of Godly Examen with our friends and family members and use it as a tool to witness Your love and salvation.
Redeeming Father, forgive us corporately and individually for our sins. Forgive us for holding on to our old ways and for being reluctant to follow Christian practices that are new to us. Forgive those who choose not to participate. Forgive us for being timid and afraid to share our experience with You with our friends, family members and co-workers. Lord, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).
Holy Spirit remind us all of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He reveals them say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help us all not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
Almighty King, You created the heavens and stretched them out. You created the earth and everything in it. You give breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. You alone are the Lord! You will not give Your glory to anyone else, nor will You share Your praise with carved idols. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Concepts to Consider
As we see in the Scriptures above from Lamentations 3, examination of the self is not a new thing. In order to see ourselves rightly, we must stop and “take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God. ”
The context of Lamentations is the traumatic aftermath of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC by Nebuchadnezzar Il. Lamentations 3 is a poetic and stylized “individual response” that echoes elements of the Psalms, Job, and Isaiah. One of the things all of these books teach us is that the healthiest Biblical response to trauma, disappointment and/or loss is lament, not rage. It takes a certain amount of self-awareness and honesty to process the emotions surrounding painful events.
But thanks be to God, He has provided us a way through the storm and the desert that can lead to life!
This week we will be using a spiritual organizational tool called the “Examen” developed by a Renaissance-era priest Ignatius of Loyala (1491-1556, Basque, Spain;
video biography: k.æLzuÆÆEUJzuüæLL.e.L) He, along with two other fellow priests created the Society of Jesus, or the “Jesuits.” As Ignatius grew in the Lord and helped others to do the same, he kept a journal that was eventually gathered into a work he called “Spiritual Exercises.” He stated that they “have as their purpose the conquest of self and the regulation of one’s life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment” outside of God, of course. These exercises emphasize many of the Christian “best practices” we have been exploring over the past few weeks. Among these practices, brother Ignatius crafted a tool for self-examination and reflection in prayer, known as the “Examen, ” and that is our emphasis for this week.
From the outset, it must be clearly stated that while the Examen is indeed a tool for personal, spiritual examination, it is not for the benefit of the self only; but rather, it is meant to equip the Jesus-follower for his/her work in the world around them. It is another stone in the foundation of spiritual practices or “means of grace” that give one the strength and integrity to have a loving, Christ-like impact in the world.
Over the next few days we will accent certain elements of the Examen and also practice the Examen each day. Don’t worry about “doing it wrong.” There are several versions of it that have evolved over the past few hundred years, but the basic ideas have remained the same. As always, you are encouraged to record your interactions with God as you practice the discipline of the week. I have provided a suggested “Lunchtime Examine ” from http://b.link/LunchtimeExanzenAudio for your daily use and consideration. (Obviously, the Examine can be done anytime of the day that works best for your schedule, and you can choose to use another format that you find more appealing). God bless you in your journey with Jesus this week!