Is anyone else finding it difficult to pray at the moment?
Is it just me?
There’s so much going on in the world that I sometimes struggle to find the words to pray. I know God can hear my heart no matter what I say, but it's often all output and no listening on my part. We are all impacted by Covid 19 in one way or another and the level of uncertainty can be overwhelming at times. When I pray, I sometimes slip into self-focused, repetitive prayers that centre around everything I perceive to be wrong in life. To try and break me out of this cycle, I’m committing to praying differently for the next two weeks.
I wondered if you would like to join me. Keep reading and hopefully you’ll want to give it a try.
In the last blog, we met St. Ignatius of Loyola. At the time he first shared his methods for exploring the Bible and praying, they were met with a lot of scepticism. These days we don’t think there's anything unusual about the idea of Jesus as our friend and many of us have grown up singing the words, 'What a friend we have in Jesus?’ This wasn’t how people saw God in the time of Ignatius and the church leaders were unnerved by his idea of us having a personal relationship with Jesus. Ignatius also encouraged people to take notice of their emotions when they were praying and developed a range of spiritual exercises to help them connect with God. One of them is the Daily Examen and millions of Christians across the world use this method of prayer regularly. The overview that follows is based on the teaching at www.ignatianspirituality.com. If you would like more detailed information then have a look at the website.
The Daily Examen is usually prayed at noon and at the end of the day. For the next two weeks, starting on Saturday 26th September, I'll post a reminder each evening on the soulwithaview facebook page for those who would like to join me in praying the Daily Examen.
Here are the steps:
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
Settle your mind and ask God to give you a clear head as you review what has happened throughout your day.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
It can be tempting, especially when life is hard, to leap into our prayer time with a list of concerns, worries, and things that we would like God to fix! This step of the Daily Examen helps us to review the day with a heart of gratitude rather than worry. Notice God's presence in your day and identify all the opportunities there were to love others or be loved by others; to share a smile, or to hear a word of encouragement.
Find God in the detail of your day.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
For Saint Ignatius, emotions played an important role in spiritual life. As you reflect on your day, what kind of feelings come to mind, and what do you think God is trying to communicate to you through those feelings? Saint Ignatius believed that these emotions were often a way for God to prompt us through His Holy Spirit.
4. Choose a feature of the day and pray from it.
As you review your day ask the Holy Spirit to highlight any events or moments that need specific prayer. It could be a conversation with someone you met, an emotional response to something you saw, or anything God leads you to focus on and pray about.
5. Look forward to tomorrow.
Think about the day ahead and ask God to give you whatever you need to live for Him.
This might be a different way of praying for you, I know it is for me! Over the next fortnight, I hope you will join me as we sit with our friend Jesus, experience firsthand how much He loves us, and listen long enough to discover how He wants us to love others.
'I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.'