On Sunday we talked about developing habits that help us to be spiritually strong and deeply connected to God when the storms of our life come. In particular, Elise shared how important practicing certain prayers have been to her when she has faced times she didn't know what to or how to pray. The Psalms have been used this way for thousands of years - tools to help God's people learn to articulate their own heart and words to say when our own escape us. They give us expressions of our hearts which allow us to, as was said on Sunday morning, "When you don't know what to pray, say your prayers."
Here are three such written prayers that may help you connect more deeply with God and your partnership in his work in the world this week.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.
This prayer is so familiar to many of us that we may recite it without thinking about what we are praying. This is a different translation which may help you reengage with the ideas and heart expressed in this prayer Jesus taught his followers to pray.
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
Although very like not a prayer ever prayed by St. Francis, this prayer is one which seeks to set our posture towards others and the world as one of offering and not taking. It also sets our hearts towards hope.
Daily Prayer of Examen
The prayer of Examen is not so much a written prayer as a format of daily prayer which leads us into deeper reflection about where God has been working and what we may have missed in the day and where we are longing to see him work in the day to come. It flows in the following sections. Depending on who is teaching it, the order of the sections may change.
Ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me. Ask to be able to see what God wants me to see.
Give thanks to God for the things I especially grateful for in the past day. (This could be partnered with the use of a gratitude journal.)
Where have I felt true joy today?
What has troubled me today?
What has challenged me today?
Where and when did I pause today?
Have I noticed God's presence in any of this?
In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life? Be willing to acknowledge my own shortcomings and be met there by God's love and grace.
A Look Ahead
As I look ahead, to tomorrow what comes to mind? Where am I seeking God's guidance? With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow?
Below there is a picture attached which could be printed off and used as a guide to pray through the daily prayer of examen.
Whatever tools you are using to help you connect deeply with God, I pray that he will meet you there and that you will be so deeply rooted in him that when the storms come you will be held strong. And those of you who are in the middle of a storm today, I pray that you know the presence of the God of peace with you in the midst of it.