Week 4 of Lent – Listening to Your Day
Over the six Sundays of Lent we will be presenting different listening practices for you to try each week, all of which will be available on the church website. This week’s practice is about listening to your day.
We did not anticipate creating these listening exercises in the middle of a global pandemic! Certainly the COVID-19 crisis is giving us a lot to listen to these days as media and news outlets update us daily (or minute-by-minute if you decide to be online all day!). The social distancing and quarantining that is happening gives us unexpected time at home, time out of our normal routine. Some of you will be busier. Some of you will have much more stillness. We all have lots we are paying attention to.
The practice for this week, which was chosen weeks ago, is to practice listening to our day. We will be using the Prayer of Examen as a way to end our day in a reflective way—looking at where we saw God in both our moments of hope and our moments of despair. How could we know that we as a church, country, and global community would be facing such extremes of both hope and despair right now? It seems that this exercise is timely indeed.
For further listening during these days, there are now a number of different YouTube playlists of our worship music (hymns and choruses) and other music (reflective, upbeat, slower) to encourage you. You can find them all here. Use these playlists. Have them on in the background as you go about your day. Let them draw you into the presence of Jesus wherever you are at.
And may we invite you to end your day with this prayer. It is a good one:
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Prayer of Examen
A classic spiritual practice developed by Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) is called the “Prayer of Examen.” It is a prayerful reflection on the thoughts, feelings, and actions of your days to see how God has been at work in you and how you responded. The goal is simple: increased awareness and attentiveness to the presence of God in your daily life—that is, noticing where God shows up in your day. While it is normally done at the end of each day, it can be prayed at any time in this way:
- Get in a comfortable position and still yourself (you could use the silence practice from week 1).
- Remember you are in the presence of God, that Jesus promised to be with us always (Mathew 28:20), and invite the Holy Spirit to guide you and search the depths of your heart as you review the events of your day.
- Walk through the events in your day. Imagine yourself watching your day on a fast-forwarded DVD with Jesus. Let Jesus stop the DVD at any part of the day so you might reflect on it.
- Notice those times when you were aware of God’s presence, when you felt you were moving toward God. How did you feel when you were open and responsive to God’s guidance? Give God thanks for those times.
- Notice also those times when you felt you were moving away from God. How did you feel when you were closed and resistant to God’s guidance? Ask for God to show where he was in those moments.
- End with prayer for grace to be more aware of God’s presence and guidance.
- Close the time with a prayer of thanks for this time with God.
Adapted from various sources, but mostly from Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Zondervan, 2017)