24 May 2017

Prayer That Keeps Me Honest & Humble

Over Lent, I went on retreat for 5 days of silence. I equally loved and hated it.

One of the things that kept coming up for me was how controlling I can be with God in our relationship sometimes. It is such a normal reaction, attitude for me that I don't always see when I am doing it.

In life, I generally like to take charge and get stuff done. Less talking and more doing. It is constant struggle to not live in the mindless busy but stay rooted in silence.

Since my retreat, I have been ending my day in with a particular type of prayer. The kind where you have to face yourself and not avoid the uncomfortable stuff you'd rather ignore...which is helping me become a little more humble and honest with myself.

I am talking about The Examen Prayer

Approximately 500 years ago, Saint Ignatius of Loyola developed this daily way of praying that invited people to examine their daily lives so they could better serve God and be aware of His presence in their daily lives. 

It is a spiritual tool that teaches you to look for God in daily life. Personally, I find it helps me stay spiritually aware.

The steps are very simple:

  1. Transition: Become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin my examen.
  2. Gratitude: Note the gifts of God's love given to me the past day...count your grateful's and thank God for them.
  3. Petition: Pray for insight and strength that this examen will be a work of grace, fruitful beyond my human ability.
  4. Review: Walk through your past day with God. Look for stirrings in your heart and thoughts God has given you. Look also for those that have not been of God. Review your choices and responses to both, and throughout the day in general.
  5. Forgiveness: Face your shortcomings of the day and ask God's forgiveness.
  6. Renewal: Look toward the following day, and with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God's desire for my life.

The priest who led me on retreat also encouraged me to begin praying the examen daily in the evening. However, he challenged me to add one more piece to the part where I review my day with God. 

Ask the Lord sincerely and sit with this question, "Where have I been controlling with God today?"

BOOM. drop the mic.

Sitting with that question every night (okay almost every night ;) is opening my eyes and helping me be more honest with myself and God. 

And this concept keeps coming up for me in lots of different ways. 

God just keeps reminding my control-freak-of-a-heart that if I try and control and manipulate my life, I will never be truly happy, that I will never be at peace.

I used to think prayer was about the right words or having it together to come into the presence of God. But that is not what prayer is at all.

Prayer is just being honest with God. And the more I do this in my own relationship with God, the more I see Him gently softening those rough edges of my heart and attitude.

What helps you stay honest and humble in prayer, your relationship with God? I'm curious what helps and works for other folks :)

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