By Ali Bray
I have been following Jesus for just about my whole life. That adds up to be more than 3 decades. But, over the past year I have realized that for many of these years I have missed a critical part of what it looks like to truly be an “apprentice” of Jesus. I have definitely acquired a lot of knowledge, spent time in prayer, had quiet times and been a part of church communities.
But, there are these practices that are a part of Jesus’ rhythm of life that I am seeing with new eyes. And, honestly, these practices have not been a regular part of my daily/weekly/yearly rhythm.
I was stopped in my tracks by a statement John Mark made in one of his messages:
“If you want the peace of Jesus, you have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.”
So, true confession…I am in the process of learning how to reorient my life around these practices that Jesus modeled so well.
And, well, it is not always easy. One challenge I have realized is that I am not just working with my own schedule. I am a working mom and have this family that I love dearly, but who complicate all things to do with calendars and schedules. But, this family…well, lets just say they raise the stakes for me. I do not just feel responsible for my own journey of developing these spiritual disciplines. I feel responsible for how life in our home will shape my children’s spiritual disciplines.
One of the tools that we have found to be helpful is something called the Daily Prayer of Examen. We did a 30 day challenge where we tried to do this prayer as a family every day for 30 days. We did not have a perfect track record, but we did find our rhythm and it has become a practice that we love. The bonus: when done at night before bed, it gets the kiddos relaxed and ushers in bedtime with a bit more ease.
If you are going to try it, commit to doing it a few times over the course of a few days or weeks. The first time you try anything new can feel awkward. It should be expected! (Yoga…Surfing…Baking a pie without experience…). Give yourself grace in the process.
Daily Prayer of Examen
The “examen” is a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It is a time set aside for reflection guided by the Holy Spirit.
Silence all technology & dim the lights.
Light a candle as a symbol of God’s presence with you. You may even want to say, “We light the candle to remind us that God is with us in this place, at this time.”
Be silent. Take a couple deep breaths. “Lord, I know that you love me and that you are with me right now.” You can also breathe in the name of Jesus, or one of the names of God (“Jehovah Shalom” is my favorite), and as you exhale say, “You are here.”
Guided by the Holy Spirit, review your day with gratitude. “Lord/Holy Spirit, help me to be aware of your presence and blessing in the people and experiences I have encountered today.” Sit and wait as you listen.
Were there any hurts today…ways you were hurt, or others were hurt in your presence? “Lord/Holy Spirit, help me to see the moments today where there were wounds or hurts.” Sit and wait as you listen.
Ask for healing for any places you were hurt, and ask for forgiveness for any hurts you may have caused. “Lord, today was painful. Heal this …”
“Lord, forgive me for those moments when I have fallen short, times when I have not shown love. Show me your ways.”
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see your needs for tomorrow. Listen to God. Tell Him anything else you need. “God, I thank you for being with me today. This is what I am thinking about with tomorrow…And, this is where I need you tomorrow…”
Repeat this prayer for a few days and see what happens as it becomes a natural habit in your life.