The prayer of Examen is the specific searching every day to find where God’s love is active this day, where God is leading this day, to discern what within me may be resisting that leading and to discover the growth to which God is calling me tomorrow and that this deepest desire can be increasingly fulfilled. We look to celebrate God’s presence and action in our lives, and also to notice how we might have fallen short
In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius urged that all be taught the Examen, a daily prayerful reflection on our responses to the events of the day. The purpose of this reflection was to see God's presence and to discern God’s direction for us. Ignatius believed that the key to a healthy spirituality is to find God in all things and to work constantly to cooperate with God’s will.
Our responses to daily events fall into two categories: our consolations (what connects us with God, others, and ourselves) and desolations (what disconnects us). Ignatius believed that God would speak to us through these two feelings.
The Examen helps us:
The Prayer of Examen takes about fifteen minutes, and involves three parts. Find a place you can relax and be comfortable. You may want to light a candle to remind you of the presence of God with you.
I haven't posted in a while because I've been traveling a lot lately. God saw fit to open a wide and effectual door into medical missions in 2017, and after much prayer and discernment I walked right through it. I love medical missions, it gives me an opportunity to serve those in the most poverty stricken areas of the world with the gifts and skills that He has so generously given me. But enough about me, lets talk about how to better discern God's Will as it relates to YOUR life.
As a spiritual director this topic comes up quite a bit in sessions, so I'd like to go over a few proven strategies that will assist you in making decisions that are more in alignment with what God is doing, and wants to do in your world.
There are a few methods you can use, but since I was trained in Ignatian discerment, that is the road we are taking today. I would like to preface all of what I am about to share with the following advice. - Don't be a "lone ranger", make sure you have a trusted friend, mentor, or spiritual director to help you walk through any major discernment issues. It is always helpful to have someone that may be able to see through your blind spots.
Firstly "the latin root of the verb discern means to discriminate, and in the Christian's tradition, discernment is the process of sifting out what is of God, and discriminating between that which expresses God's call and anything that runs counter to it" ( The Way of Discernment, Liebert, E. 2001). Ignatian discernment involves seven steps. As this is a large topic, I will ONLY list the seven steps today. I will go into more depth on each step in my next post.
(Until then if you have any questions about either of the steps, leave a question or comment below.)
7 steps of Ignatian Discernment
1. Seek spiritual freedom. In my opinion this is the most important step because you have to be free from your own disordered ideas, attachments and attitudes to hear God's voice.
2. Name the issue or choice you are facing. Be as specific as possible.
3. Gather appropriate data about the issue. Do your homework
4. Reflect and Pray
5. Formulate a tentative decision
6. Seek confirmation
7. Access the process
Spiritual direction can help you find deeper meaning and purpose in your life by encouraging you to engage on a deeper level to what God is calling you to be and do. In spiritual direction sessions we create space to cultivate the awareness of the presence of God in your life. We reflect deeply on how God is communicating or wanting to communicate with you in this season and come up with ways for you to respond to God's call.
Most of us get overly busy or burned out from time to time, however we can learn how to slow down just a little to allow God's grace to enliven and refresh our minds, bodies and spirits. It is especially important for those of us that serve in leadership roles such as clergy, pastors, and ministry leaders. There is a constant demand for our attention to be turned outside of ourselves, especially in these roles. We can sometimes forget to pay attention to the dynamics of our own interior lives and our own spiritual growth. Spiritual Direction can help us with that.
As a busy leader myself, spiritual direction helps me to more acutely envision and articulate what God is wanting from me and also what He is wanting to give to me. It is a time for me to inquire of and speak my truth and have another witness it. In doing that I find nuggets of insight and revelation that would have been missed otherwise. I like to say that spiritual direction sessions are often like panning for gold. The golden nuggets that God has placed in each and every one of us.