Day three of our one-week commitment
to the ancient Prayer of Examen.
Recall that the Prayer of Examen is an ancient Christian spiritual practice to help you remember that in the past 24 hours God has been active and present in your life. On Monday, November 9, we provided a brief and basic introduction to the prayer's background and four steps. You might find it useful to review that introduction on your third day of using the Prayer of Examen.
Sunday, in our worship, we were asked if we would "center on the core elements of Christian faith." We are living in a time when it is fashionable to revise the foundational realities that Christians have embraced for centuries. We all know church in America has lost traction. Some think the reason is that Christian faith itself is the issue and a new kind of faith is needed to accommodate the times in which we live. A classic example is that it is now fashionable among some pastoral leaders and churches to say, "It is acceptable to continue to believe in resurrection of Jesus as an allegory about how goodness defeats evil. But do not really expect anyone today to believe that Jesus truly was raised back to life after his real death." Are you willing to ground your faith in the core foundational truths of Christianity? Are you willing to re-learn these core realities? Are you willing to learn how to think in a distinctive Christian manner? Are you willing to become more and more theologically and biblically discerning about your faith, knowing what you believe, and why?
STEP ONE: PRESENCE
- The best you can, turn down the distracting noise around you so you can turn up the power of reflection.
- Find a comfortable location. Settle into it.
- Be there in that relatively quiet and comfortable place and moment. Do not rush past this.
- Perhaps say a brief phrase from scripture to help center your attention on the presence of God. For example, "The Presence of God is life."
STEP TWO: GRATITUDE
- As your distractions subside and your focus increases, pray this prayer: "Present God, in these moments, please remind me of all the goodness I have received because of your presence.
- Now that you are centered and focused, in what small and big ways was God active in your life in the past 24 hours?
- What were the circumstances and situations surrounding God's activity? What was happening in your life? What was going on in you and around you?
- Take a moment to write at least one of these moments in your journal.
- Take another moment to express your gratitude to God.
STEP THREE: REVIEW
- In the last 24 hours, where did you notice the foundational realities of Christian faith? Did you see the holiness of God? Did you see the sovereignty of God? Did you see the wisdom of God? Did you see the grace of God? Did you see the Spirit of God convicting you or others?
- Where did notice, in the last 24 hours, ideas and decisions made by others or you that were contrary to these core elements of Christian faith?
- In what ways do you find yourself most agreeing with the foundational realities of Christianity? Why? Where did you yourself resisting the core truths of Christian faith in the past 24 hours? What is the root cause of that resistance?
- As you think over the past 24 hours, is it more true that you are aligning with, or resisting, the foundational realities of Christian doctrine?
STEP FOUR: RESPONSE
- Having spent some time remembering Christianity actually has some core ideas that are essential to the faith, you might want to thank God for what you do know of Him. Take time to enter in your journal some of the core ideas that seem absolutely essential.
- You might find it necessary to confess that you have not paid much attention to these core theological ideas. You are grateful for salvation, but you are not clear about what you believe, and why, beyond that.
- You might find it necessary to share a concern, or a confusion, about these core doctrinal truths.
- You might find it necessary to make a commitment to learn more about the core doctrinal and theological commitments of Christianity, reading a book such as 'The Reason for God,' by Tim Keller or joining a group such as Faith Matters.
- What practices and habits and ways are you now going to change? Which are you going to continue living tomorrow?