Lives that desire ongoing transformation require regular examination. On Sunday we studied the spiritual discipline called the Prayer of Examen. The idea behind this exercise is that we practice regular times of reflection to weigh what is important in our day, our week, and our life. For the next week, try to set aside 10 minutes at lunch or before you go to bed to practice this exercise.
Step one: Ask God for insight. This part is critical, but it's a step that's easily skipped because we think we can do it ourselves. Examen includes self-examination but it's more than that because we are asking and trusting God to be our guide. It's a time of self-reflection, but we're also praying for Spirit reflection, for the God to open eyes and change hearts and convict of sin and comfort with grace and all the things we can't do on our own.
Step Two: Examine the presence of God through the day (the examen of consciousness). This is a count your many blessings," moment, but it's more. Ask a few questions like: 1) When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others, and myself? When today did I have the least sense of connection? Why? 2) What was the most life-giving part of my day? What was the least life-giving part of my day
Step Three: Examine your sins through the day (The examen of conscience). Be honest. Be open. Be specific.
Step Four: Ask God for forgiveness, and trust in the grace of God to wash you clean. The goal is to live free in God's grace, not to languish as slaves in guilt. Take God at his word that his grace is always more than enough.
Step Five: Resolve through the grace of God to do better. Try to commit to an action item or an attitude item. Grace truly embraced means lives increasingly transformed.