Spiritual Disciplines // STUDY & SELF EXAMINATION
By Chris Bowlby
I hope you are as hopeful as I am from Lead Pastor Isaac’s message on Sunday. Nehemiah and his motley crew of workers dedicated themselves to the Lord and did the impossible in just 52 days. Make no mistake, these were difficult days; however, with perseverance and faithfulness God brought them to completion. Wow.
On Sunday, Pastor Isaac challenged us to be thinking about the next 52 days. There is faithfulness in attendance needed, openness to serving, generosity with my money, and diligence in prayer that will be required if we want to walk in God’s goodness. I’m pretty well known to always be starting my diet on Monday. Which Monday? The next one, of course! Do not put off your role in your discipleship any longer. Each new season requires new steps of obedience. While it is important to look forward, it would behoove us to look back. As we reflect on our past, even our recent past, we have the opportunity to receive God’s grace and wisdom for how to walk forward. Today we will participate with the Prayer of Examen.
Note: Many of you will be doing this devotional in the morning. That’s great! I’ve found this to be even more helpful in the evening when my day is still fresh in my mind.
Find a quiet place and begin breathing slowly. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of God’s Presence.
REPLAY: Think over your day (or previous day) in your mind. Allow it to play like a movie running through your mind. What sticks out to you? Pay particular attention to moments where you felt emotions. Were there moments you felt happy, sad, anxious, or angry? Make note of these – write them down.
REJOICE: Spend time thanking God for the obvious things. There will be moments that stick out; but don’t forget to thank God for the not so obvious moments. Were you healthy? Did your favorite song come on the radio? Were you able to enjoy a good meal? Did your children not bother you in the bathroom? Don’t let the obvious crowd out the small moments of blessing.
REPENT: There will be moments of regret! Did you participate in gossip? Did you bend the truth at all? Did you exaggerate something? Did you react harshly to someone? These are all sins of COMMISION (doing something wrong) as opposed to sins of OMISSION (not doing something RIGHT). Did you miss a moment where the Holy Spirit prompted you to do something? Did you ignore a need? Repentance is a gift – it postures us to receive afresh God’s kindness. God receives our sins, as offered through a repentant heart, and offers full grace. Take a few breaths to receive His grace.
REBOOT: Make a commitment to walk out today filled with the Holy Spirit, empowering you to live a good and pleasing life God. The Psalms tell us “His mercies are new every morning.” Today is a fresh opportunity to walk in obedience.
This is the Prayer of Examen! I like to finish my time with a short walk or just sitting in silence experiencing the peace of knowing God is with me. This process is good and helpful to do once – it can change your life to participate on a regular basis!