Teach Us to Pray, Part 2
The problem of praying in relationship with God rather than just speaking a list of requests in prayer, mentioned in my previous post, always seems to come down to a problem of hearing. That's because we can speak to God, but we often have trouble hearing God, distinguishing God's voice from the voice in our head, or the voices around us. Or perhaps we listen but hear only silence.
This is not a new problem. Christians have throughout history--ever since Jesus taught us to pray, and I will post on the LORD's prayer in the near future--struggled to hear God's voice in their praying. We are not used to sitting with silence, or quieting our own and other voices in our heads. We don't know how to open ourselves--the ears of our hearts--to hear what God might say to us.
Here I am offering an adaptation of the Prayer of Examen, originally attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola and adapted by me, Amy. Pray this prayer if you are wanting to know God's presence. Pray this prayer if you want to open yourself more to God's involvement in your life. Pray this prayer if you feel that your daily routines take you away from God. Pray this prayer if you struggle to listen, or to hear, God's voice.
This is not a prescription that you can fill or a pill you can swallow that will sweep you immediately into God's presence. It is not a magic spell that will fix your problems. Rather, it is an intentional practice that can open you up to God's presence and work in your life. It is an invitation to the Holy Spirit to participate with you in your life. It is a way to put yourself in a space where your spiritual senses might become more sensitive, more alive--a place of relational prayer and conversation with God.
Prayer of Examen
Practice once to twice daily, (mid-day and nighttime) 10 minutes.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139: 23-4)
Be silent and know God’s presence.
God is with you, always and everywhere. (Acts 17:28)
Spirit, give me light to see my day through your eyes, not my own.
Give thanks to God.
My day, and everything in it, was a gift to me from God. (James 1:17)
Call to mind particular good things you have experienced in the past hours, this day, or since your last Prayer of Examen.
Search, examine. God knows your heart and everything in it.
There is no condemnation in God’s love. (Rom:8:1)
Become aware: Ask the Spirit to reveal whatever there is in your heart and life that hurts yourself and others.
Guided by the Spirit, recall the emotions you experienced this day.
Ask: God, are the interactions and circumstances in my life drawing me toward you? Away from you?
Notice: At what points can I see God’s love? God’s working in my life?
How did I respond to God? When did I say yes to God? Resist God?
4. Openness. Talk honestly with the God about what you have noticed.
God, I ignored you…
God, I turned away from you…
God, I failed to acknowledge you…
God, I went my own way…
Ask God for these things: forgiveness, counsel, guidance, wisdom, perseverance.
Listen for the Spirit’s voice, knowing God loves, accepts, and forgives you.
Acknowledge your need of God for the coming minutes, hours, and day.
Claim your need and desire to know God’s love (Eph 3:17-9), faithfulness (Heb 13:5) and power (Eph 3:16) in your life.
Ask the Spirit to go with you wherever you go and in whatever you do this day.
Pray that the Spirit would give you a sense of God’s presence in all you do, say, and think.
Resolve: what step can I take to remain in the Spirit in the coming hours?
Prayer of Examen, St. Ignatius of Loyola, adapted by Amy Isaac Obrist