March 7, 2024

Eugene Peterson once said, “One of the most important jobs of a pastor is to teach people to pray.” Peterson isn’t saying that necessarily the role of a pastor is to dictate how people pray, but the role of a pastor is to connect people to God.

Ever since reading that quote by Peterson, God has used it in my life. I have felt a conviction to make prayer a much more vital part of my own personal spirituality and to make it a greater emphasis in our church’s life together.

Side-bar: If you have any freedom whatsoever on Wednesday mornings, I really hope you will join us for the Sanctuary Prayers at 9:15 AM in the Sanctuary. It is an intentional time of prayer for one another, our church, and whatever other concerns God has laid on our hearts.

One of the forms of prayer that has come to mean a lot to me is known as the Prayer of Examen. It is a Jesuit prayer that “examines” our days to determine how we have moved both closer to and farther away from God with our choices, decisions, and emotions. It is attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) who spent most of his adult life exploring the depths of his own soul so that he might grow closer to God.

I’ve been familiar with the prayer for a few years, but have never really taken the time to practice it intentionally and on a regular basis. Well, in the Leadership and Spiritual Formation program I am currently studying, it is a requirement that we practice the Prayer of Examen on a daily basis and that we meet with a Journey Partner in our program to discuss what God is saying to us through this form of prayer.

In last Sunday’s sermon, I quickly presented the five steps of the Prayer of Examen, but I want to give them to you all again in case someone missed them or wants to practice this prayer in their own life. You can also go here to learn more about the Jesuits (if I became a monk, I’d be a Jesuit!) and the Prayer of Examen:

  1. Place yourself in God’s presence. In this first step, you sit in silence and you allow yourself to listen to God. You give thanks for God’s great love for you. Stop, breathe deeply, and know that you are in God’s presence. God has been with you since the beginning of your day, in every detail. (Psalm 139:7-8)
  2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is active in your life. Every moment in your day is a gift from God. Be thankful for all of it, even the smallest things: a text from a friend, a warm cup of coffee, the flowers outside your window. Allow gratitude to draw you into the fullness of your life.(Psalm 9:1-2)
  3.  Review your day. You recall specific moments. You think back on the decisions you made. You remember the feelings you felt throughout the day. Think back over your day: who you were with, where you were, what you did—however ordinary. Recall the sights, sounds, smells, conversations, thoughts, and feelings you experienced. What enlivened you? What discouraged you? Give your attention to those moments, and offer them to God. (Psalm 139:1-2)
  4. Then you reflect on the decisions you made and you place them into one of two categories. Consolations are those moments in your day when you grew closer to God through the way you lived your life. Ask God how you may build upon and lean into your consolations in your life. Desolations were those moments when you grew farther away from God through the way you lived your life. As you consider your day, reflect honestly on your desolations, on the moments you felt out of tune with God—something you said, a missed opportunity, some way you wish you had acted differently. For what do you need forgiveness? Do you need to make things right with someone else? Look at your shortcomings, and allow God to heal them. (Psalm 51:10-12)
  5. Look forward to tomorrow. As you look ahead, how do you want to grow closer to God tomorrow? What are you looking forward to, and what concerns you? Ask for God’s help in the future: to open your eyes, your ears, and your heart to see where God is working. Remember that God will again be present tomorrow—in all things large and small—guiding you toward fullness in your life. (Psalm 121:1-2)

Consider making this prayer part of your daily rhythm. Perhaps start a journal for reflection as you do so. And allow God to speak to you in the quiet space of the evening as you remember that God’s mercies are new every morning.




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123, New Lenox, Chicago IL 60606

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8:00am, 9:15am, 11:00am