I usually remember to pray for things or events that I’m anticipating and then once they’re over, I try to remember to give thanks. However, about eight years ago I was introduced to the Prayer of Examen, an ancient practice that helps me see God’s hand at work in my experiences. Also called the Examination of Consciousness, this spiritual exercise has helped me learn to notice God ‘s presence in the rearview mirror.
Often before I go to sleep, I pray backwards through my day replaying my activities, tasks, conversations, and reflections. I ask God to reveal how He was present and active in both the high and low points of my day. Then I notice what feelings arise as I pray since they help focus my attention at certain points. Did I recognize God during the day, or did I miss him? Was God inviting me into something new or encouraging me to leave something behind?
It’s helpful to avoid making demands on ourselves or God as we pray. Just accept whatever the Spirit shows us, remembering God is equally in those moments we would never choose as in those we would always gladly choose. As we consistently pray and ponder or “examine” our experiences, we gain a deeper, growing awareness and appreciation of what it means to truly know Immanuel, our loving God who is with us in every aspect of our lives. I encourage you to try praying backwards during this season of sheltering in place.
(I’ve been writing this while listening to our Good Friday hymns that Bernard and Sue linked to help us prepare for tomorrow night’s service. I’ll miss singing them with you, participating and watching as our church family goes to the cross with our nails. This Easter will surely be different. We will be apart together. May the Lord strengthen our hearts.)
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8