This blog is to add “One More Thing” or two to Sunday’s message. You can’t always say everything in a message, so the blog is designed to expand on the message. If you weren’t in worship, you can watch the message on Middletown UMC’s Facebook page or listen to it on our website at middletownumc.org.
The message from Sunday is what I call bridge message. It was the last message in the series Discovering the Deepest Desires of Our Heartand the first message in the series Courage. Over the last few weeks I have addressed what it means to discover our deepest desire. Whether we have named it not our deepest desire is to know and love God. I looked at spiritual practices which help us name that desire – prayer, scripture reading, discernment. The spiritual practice for Sunday was self-examination.
It takes a great deal of courage to honestly and completely look at ourselves. A close examination might reveal where we have fallen short, however, there is opportunity to discover where we are getting right. The better we know ourselves the better we can know and love God. Practicing self-examination may reveal what is standing between us and knowing and loving God. Those barriers between us and God might be fear, our jobs, relationships just to name a few possibilities.
More that 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola proposed a prayer that has become known as the Daily Examen. ( You may want to check our this website on Ingnatian Spirituality, https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/) There is a great app for your phone or table to help you with this prayer time. It is designed to be used at the end of the day, a way of looking back over you day to see where you may have experienced God or perhaps missed God. It is also an opportunity to see where you lived as a faithful disciple or missed it.
The following is a blueprint for the Daily Examen if you don’t want to us the app.
The Practice of Self-Examination
Preparation: Take a few moments to be still and silent. Read a favorite scripture or prayer, spiritual reading to focus your attention on God.
Invitation: Invite God to go with you in search of evidence of God’s presence that day.
Review the Day: Identify the major events of the day noticing where God seemed to be loving you, speaking to you, guiding you or showing you something new.
Give Thanks: Thank God for all the time you experienced God’s presence. If there are any unresolved issues or questions take them to God.
Confess: Using Psalm 139:23-24 as your prayer asking God to bring to mind attitudes, actions, or moments where you fell short of exhibiting the character of Christ or the fruit of the Spirit.
Ask for Forgiveness: Seek God’s forgiveness for those places you fell short. Determine if you hurt anyone and need to seek their forgiveness.
Seek Out Spiritual Friendship: Share with someone what you are discovering and any actions you need to take.1
- Barton, Ruth Haley, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2006, pp. 108-109.