Week Five Practices
1. The Prayer of Examen
2. Black History Month
The Prayer of Examen
Take time everyday this week to pray by reflecting and recognizing God's presence throughout your day.
THE DAILY EXAMEN
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23–24
“Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
Many Christian traditions find it best to practice the Examen regularly… every night or every morning. Why is that? Because it is human nature to overlook things. Human nature tends to forget good things, especially the awareness of where GOD was and where GOD is. It’s often much easier to see GOD in retrospect.
To put it poetically, TS Eliot once wrote “We had the experience but missed the meaning.” And the philosopher Plato said it even more bluntly, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Often, we move from one moment to the next in our busy lives, rarely stopping to reflect what is happening around us and what is happening inside of us. The prayer of examen helps us slow down and notice God’s presence throughout our seemingly normal lives.
Dennis Linn writes, “The Examen makes us aware of moments that at first we might easily pass by as insignificant; moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.”
The Examen was originally developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola and has been passed down through the great tradition of historic Christianity. There are various ways to pray the examen but here are the basic steps:
- Find a quiet place at the end of the day and open yourself to God’s presence.
- Gratitude – rejoice in the good things of the day.
- Replay the day in order to recognize God’s presence in each part of the day.
- Where might you feel regret? Repent of the ways you did not follow Jesus.
- Attune your heart to God’s heart. Make space to connect with God over anything meaningful that came up for you.
- Resolve to live for Jesus tomorrow.
HOW TO PRACTICE
1) Open yourself to God’s presence.
Find a quiet place and become comfortable. Take a deep breath. Relax. Ask God to be with you. You may like to imagine yourself sitting with Jesus. This is a time to invite God into your day.
Call to mind 1-2 things from the day that you are grateful for. They need not be big. Anything that blessed you today. Call them to mind one by one. Savor them. Thank God for them. Try to think of exact moments rather than general gratitude for friends, family, protection, etc. (Example: my son gave me a kiss on the cheek with Cheetos on his lips)
3) Review the Day.
From getting up to going to bed. Notice where you accepted God’s invitation to be loving, to be grateful, and to be yourself. And where did you turn away from it? Think about specific people, places, and events.
- START with WAKING
What was it like? Were you rushed, calm, what was the beginning of your day like? Where was God?
What did you do? Where did you notice God? What people, places or events did you encounter God? Take your time and simply notice.
Continue in the same reflection during these times:
- LUNCH TIME
What was this time of the day like?
What did you do? Where did you notice God?
Notice what happened, where was God present to you?
- END OF THE DAY
Call to mind where God was and how you responded.
You probably remembered some things you regret because none of us are perfect. Remember those things now, even your sins, and express sorrow to God. Receive God’s forgiveness and the grace to live in the way of Jesus. In some situations, the sins done may be giving you lingering anxiety. In such cases, you may want to talk to a pastor, or friend, or counselor.
Take a moment to think of something that came up during the examen that was meaningful. Bring it before God. Maybe you want to say something about it and God say something about it to you. Allow yourself to sense God’s unbroken connectedness.
Bring your intention to God for the next day. Close your time of prayer by asking the Holy Spirit to help you notice God’s presence throughout the coming days.
Engage Black History Month
LAMENT & CELEBRATE
There is a problem here in America that has festered for decades. When there is the pain of national news of a black body being abused on film then we all start to feel the urgency of the issue, injustice because of Race. We have to be proactive with the love and honor of African- Americans not because it feels good to us, but because it would complete our transformation into a humble society. Let us be those who speak into injustice and stand up for the poor any day of the year, not only because a black person is lying in a pool of blood on a video.
WAYS TO CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY
Spend each week diving into important under-taught moments in American history, commit to humbly sharing what you learn with one person or 50.
- Tulsa Race Massacre
- Harper’s Ferry
- Civil Rights Birmingham Campaign
- Tuskegee Syphilis Study
- Chicago Red Summer
- The Race Riot of 1919
Leave your neighborhood and commit to Supporting Black owned businesses
- Tubby’s Taste
- SemiColon Bookstore
- Sip and Savor
- Exquisite 501
- Planks & Pistils
- Coffee, Hip Hop & Mental Health
Serve/Give to organizations that serve black people
- Lawndale Christian Health Center
- Firehouse Community Arts Center
- Hope Academy
- By the Hand
- GRIP Youth
- Suburban Unity Alliance
Consider someone of color above yourself
- Defend Black people in white spaces
- Shut down racist rhetoric in your presence
- Make sure you honor and make black people feel welcome in the spaces you inhabit
Check out this list of wonderful ways to participate in Black History Month this year in Chicago!