On this page, you will find resources related to various spiritual practices that are helpful as you seek to be intentional about the formation of your soul.
Putting things into words (your own words), leads to the openness and receptivity that is vital to life change and growing intimacy with God. Jesus often asked people, “what do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36, 51) He knew exactly what they wanted. But, He knew that people need to put things in their own words if they are going to embrace and truly be open to transformation at the heart level. Giving voice to our desire opens us to what is going on in the depths of our lives. Sometimes, it clarifies our hearts, and at other times, it reveals our hearts.
With this in mind, journaling can be an important spiritual discipline for growth.
Each day, ask yourself a series of questions in order to grow in the awareness of what is going on in your life and open yourself to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Writing isn’t magical by itself but writing as a prayer with the awareness that you are in His presence is the key.
Each morning, start with the question: What do I want?
(you can answer generally or specific to the day) As you write, open your heart to the influence of God to affirm, shift, or expand what is in your awareness.
Each evening, ask yourself: How was God present with me today? How did I respond to His presence?(this is an important step in learning to be aware of His presence in your life)
Anytime you are experiencing afflictive or confusing emotions, ask: What I am thankful for? (make a list; ask God to bring things to your awareness)
Other questions to consider: What am I thinking? What am I feeling? Is there anything in my life that I am resisting? What question might God want me to ask myself?
God is always present with us. He is always shaping us and forming us. A vital spiritual practice is to notice these realities. How is He present with me? How is He at work around me? How might I more fully participate in His work in my life and in the world around me? As we practice a Daily Examen (first designed by St Ignatius), we are able to put our lives into context. And, we are learning to do this in the moment during our day. The idea is to set aside a period of time each day (at least once but it could be midday and then in the evening) for this kind of prayer. And, the Examen can also be practiced for any time frame (weekly, monthly, annually) or a particular event …
Here is a pattern of prayer for an Examen:
1. Become aware of God’s presence. Sit in quiet for a few minutes and remind yourself of His presence and love for you. Review the events of the day prayerfully. Ask God to bring to your awareness the ways in which He was present with you.
2. Review the day with gratitude. Walk through your day with God and notice the place in which you experiencing joy. What made your soul glad as you consider the day? What gifts did the day bring? Pay attention to the events, the people, the circumstances – what do you see? What details seem important now that you are reflecting on the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions. What did you feel today? Joy? Anger? Sadness? Fear? Loneliness? Frustration? All the emotions are gifts from God to help us see the nature of our souls and how we are responding to the world around us. What might these various emotions tell you about your life? What are in the invitations that these emotions bring forward? How did you fall short in the way that you engaged the emotions during the day?
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask God to show you something from the day that is significant. Pray about that feature of your day – praise, repentance, intercession – whatever arises from your spirit as you interact with God.
5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you insight into the coming day. What might He want you to see? What challenges lie ahead? What gifts might you experience in the coming day? Ask Him for strength and wisdom and grace to enter into the next day.
Finally, take a few minutes and sit with the Lord, enjoying His presence and love in your life. As thoughts come to you, gently lay them at His feet – entrusting your life to Him.
The Breath Prayer we know today originated with the Desert Mothers and Fathers as a way to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Historically, it is associated with the Eastern Church, particularly Greek and Russian Orthodox churches.
Known more commonly as the “Jesus Prayer” early practitioners would repeat to the rhythm of their breath the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” In time, the prayer was shortened to, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy” or simply, “Jesus, mercy.”
Breath prayer has the potential to become as natural as breathing and it is intended to be a very short prayer with just six to eight syllables. The inhalation of breath is a movement that expresses an attitude of invocation or supplication and the exhalation is a movement that expresses an attitude of receiving or acceptance. The words of the prayer can be easily adjusted to whatever longing is in your heart.
Invocation is made by calling on one of the Divine names such as God, Jesus, Lord, Father/Mother, Christ, or Spirit or whatever name of adoration you prefer. Then put words to your request or intention.The breath prayer is usually said silently within, repeating the prayer over and over keeping your attention on your breath and the prayer. If your attention wanders, gently return to the prayer.
- Close your eyes and recall the line “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Be still, calm, peaceful, open to the presence of God. Take a deep breath and release it slowly. Repeat this a few times. Let go of the thoughts and be present to the practice.Take as long as you need until you feel the thoughts settle.
- With your eyes closed, imagine that like the blind man on the road to Jericho, Jesus kindly looks you in the eyes and asks, “What do you want from me?” Take time to sit here and and see what comes up inside of you. If you have more than one answer, write it down.
- Select the name that you are most comfortable using to speak with God and combine it with your written answer to the question God asked you. This is your prayer.
- Breathe in your invocation of God’s name and breathe out the second phrase/word to express your request or need.
- Repeat the prayer as you breathe in and out for five minutes or longer.
- Rest in God’s presence.
*Check back often as this page and other resources will be added on a regular basis.
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
A great resource for exploring various spiritual practices is the “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” by Adele Calhoun.