My pastor is currently teaching a series on prayer, helpful ways to better connect with God. These ways are not intended to be a “one size fits all”, or a rigid method of “you must do this in order to grow in your walk with God”. But I thought his latest class about the Examen Prayer was really interesting. Although I have heard about this kind of prayer, I really knew little about it. So I am sharing what I have learned. I’ll give you a Facebook link to his class at the end of this post if you wish to hear it. There are also a couple of good (free) apps from the Examen Prayer available through Google’s Play Store and Apple: “Reimagining the Examen”, and “Examen Prayer”.
Some Christians find a specific approach to prayer a helpful discipline, while others prefer to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). The Examen Prayer is a practice in meditation and prayer. Many people throughout the centuries have found this helpful in sensing God’s daily presence and guidance. This prayer is credited to Roman Catholic Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) who, a Spanish soldier from his youth, pursued military glory and personal pleasure until age 30. After a severe battle wound, during a prolonged and painful recovery, he dove into Christian literature. This motivated him to renounce his old habits and commit himself to serving God.
After Ignatius spent hours of his convalescence in meditation and prayer he became convinced that any believer could benefit from prayer. He felt prayer is more effective when one approaches it in more of a conversational way with Jesus as a friend rather than in a ritual method. In 1548, Ignatius published his discovery in the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of prayers, mental exercises, and meditations devised to be completed in 28 to 30 days. The Examen Prayer gives suggested “points” or “movements” when “praying the Examen.” These points are as follows:
Movement 1: Thanksgiving
Movement 2: Guidance
Movement 3: Review
Movement 4: Grace
Movement 5: Resolution
Whatever approach believers take in prayer, they may find the Examen Prayer helpful as long as they keep grounded in God’s Word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). Here is a link to Pastor Cliff Purcell’s class: Prayer Like You Never Experienced It, Episode 3. Blessings!
(Photo and quote by Jacqueline Cooper.)
How has God blessed you? I’m sure many of you would agree that God is a loving, gracious Father. That His love and forgiveness alone is more than we deserve. If we are in Christ, God has poured blessing upon blessing into our lives. He even turns our messes into something beautiful if we let Him.
I love the The Message translation of Ephesians 1:3: “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”
Did you know that it is possible to bless God? Some may argue: Because God is altogether perfect and lacks nothing, He doesn’t need our blessings. Though I agree that we don’t add to God’s character, or somehow strengthen Him through our blessings, I do believe that our attitudes, words, and actions can bring joy to his heart and a smile to His face. When we bless, praise and acknowledge God, we are fulfilling His original purpose of creating us.
What if we make it our priority to daily bless God in 2019? For He truly deserves it! You may read more on this topic here: What Does It Mean to Bless God? And for all of you scholarly readers, you might enjoy John Piper’s thesis: What Does It Mean to Bless God?
I love this verse! There are times when I wonder if I am making any gains in my spiritual life. Too many times I start the new year with well-meaning goals and resolutions. Not that they can’t be attained, but on my own, my best efforts usually hit a wall at some point. But thankfully, when God starts a project, He finishes it!
Paul is describing the Christian’s growth process here. God’s work for us began when Christ took our place with His sacrificial death on the cross. His work in us begins when we first believe. With Jesus Christ as our foundation, He continues framing and building our character while daily enabling us to be more Christ-like through His indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit. If you are God’s child, rest in the promise that He will finish this good work when we meet Him face to face.