We hope this guide will enrich you as we journey through the letter of James over the summer. The book of James combines the wisdom of Jesus with the wisdom of Proverbs to call followers of Jesus to live fully devoted to God. The book is filled with wisdom and frequently references the Sermon on the Mount. In the introduction, James presents the words and themes that are used throughout the letter. He doesn’t teach new theology, but challenges followers of Jesus in how to think, speak and act in accordance with the way of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. These challenges are full of metaphors and easily memorized one-liners. When a follower of Jesus listens to and follows God’s Word they love God and others more fully. They find that their words and actions match and that their life is full and complete.
More on James can be found at Bible Project.
This guide has two parts:
Weekly Sermon Guide
Each Sunday in this ten-week series will have a brief devotional, discussion questions, a prayer guide and three practices for the following week. This portion of the guide is designed to be used with others in small groups and the practices are framed around James’s heart for renewed thinking, speaking and acting.
Daily Prayer Guide
Each day, apart from Sunday, will have a reading, reflection and response. The readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer and the response is a simple closing prayer for each week. For more information on the Book of Common Prayer as well as the full list of daily readings visit their website. The readings and response are a simple way of daily joining Christians across the world in prayer and spiritual formation. For the daily reflection portion we encourage you to practice the Prayer of Examen.
The Prayer of Examen
The Ignatian Examen is a prayer that helps us to identify and pay closer attention to God’s activity in everyday life. When fully adopted, the Examen becomes a habit, a daily inventory of the ways God has been at work in our lives and of the ways that we either have or have not responded to this activity of God. If you are going to pray the Examen once each day, the most helpful times tend to be in the morning, at midday or at night. Whatever time of day you choose, consider making it a part of your routine so that you don’t forget.
Steps of the Examen
As you begin, invite God into your prayer and ask for the grace to see yourself honestly as you review your day. Then, at a meditative pace, review your day using the five steps below as a guide. You can prayerfully meditate on your responses or journal as you move through the reflections.
Recall your day and name anything for which you are particularly grateful. Thank God for these gifts.
Review the Day
Review the events of your day. Move from morning to night and notice where you felt God’s presence. Were there any invitations to grow in faith, hope or charity? How did you respond to these invitations?
Name your Sorrows
Name those things from the day for which you are sorry. Include both actions and regrets, things you did or did not do.
Ask God to forgive you. If there is someone you may have hurt and with whom you should reconcile, resolve now to reconcile with them and ask their forgiveness.
Ask for Grace for Tomorrow
Conclude by thanking God for the gift of your life and this day. Then, ask for the grace you need to see God’s presence more clearly and to conform yourself to Jesus Christ more closely tomorrow.
Speak words of encouragement to another person.
Owning our poverty and giving abundantly
What does it mean to be poor? Poverty is when you don’t have enough, or you feel you don’t have enough. Something is lacking. This weekly practice invites us to own our own poverty while living generously with our abundance.
Ask yourself these questions each week as you may find patterns or different needs over time.
- Where in your life do you feel like you don’t have enough or are not enough?
- Where can you live generously? Take a step this week to living free and generous with your time, your money, your material possessions, or your talent.
Over time, what specifically about this practice have you found helpful for living in trust and the reality of abundance?