is a Relationship (Daily
“Prayer is all the ways in which we communicate and commune
with God. The fundamental purpose of prayer is to deepen our intimacy
with God.” (Barton, Ruth Haley. Sacred Rhythms.
Downers Grove/Intervarsity Press, 2006. p. 63).
Prayer is hanging out with God. Maybe most of the time
you do all the talking in prayer. If our human relationships were that
way, we wouldn’t have very many friends! Relationships are give and
take – talk and listen. Take a moment to review your prayer life. Does
it feel like a relationship? How is it similar or different from your
human relationships? Do you desire to get to know God and spend time
hanging out together? Think about your weekly schedule and put aside
at least 10 minutes a day for cultivating this relationship.
At the end of each day, it is helpful to review the events
of the day. What was joyful? What was challenging? Ignatius of Loyola
created a daily practice, called Prayer of Examen, which brought to
daily prayer the things he was thankful for, things he needed God’s
help in removing from his life, and centered on the quality of his relationships
with God and others. Below are two versions of the Examen for you to
Prayer of Examen
Center = Breathe deeply and get your body in a comfortable
position. Remind yourself of God’s constant loving presence within and
Spend = a few moments mentally reliving your day from
beginning to end. What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you speak
with? Who did you pass by?
Joys = Where did God meet you today? Where did you
find joy, delight, or surprise? When did you feel loved? When were your
actions loving? Then = Let yourself deeply feel the gratitude, joy and
love that were part of your day. Concentrate on the emotion and be attentive
to the feelings in silence.
Challenges = Where were you challenged today? Where
there difficult moments in your encounters with others? Did anything
stir your thoughts? Do you feel any regrets? Were you drawn in compassion
to anyone in particular? If you were not, why do you think that might
be? Concentrate = on those emotions and be attentive
to the feelings in silence. Is God calling you to any action or change?
Move Ahead = Think about tomorrow – a clean slate.
What are your plans? Who will you encounter? How would you like to engage
them? Then = Pray for wisdom and strength. Pray that your heart might
be enlarged to encompass those Christ wishes to love through you.
Close with the Lord’s Prayer or singing a favorite
A Short Examen
If the full Examen is too cumbersome to remember (when you are on vacation,
let’s say), Nancy Bieber offers this shortened version:
What has been life-giving today? What has been life-draining today?
How did I experience God’s love today? How did I show my love to God
today? How did I show my love for others?
Practice either version at the close of each day or early
the next morning before beginning your day. I have created a set of
prayer beads that go along with the longer version, putting a series
of smaller beads in between each movement in the prayer. This allows
my body to help me concentrate on one thing at a time and move smoothly
through the prayer.
You may want to try making your own set of prayer beads
or order a set from me (coming soon).
Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton (Downers
Grove/Intervarsity Press, 2006)