Sunday morning worship at Grace Episcopal Church remains online. Evening Prayer is offered outdoors on Sunday evenings for a congregation of 50 or less. All are welcome, however registration is required. Please visit our Grace@Home page for the registration link and to see all the ways we are staying connected to one another, to Grace, and to God!
422 Brenau Avenue, Gainesville, GA 30501
We talk a lot these days about trying to stay grounded, to be mindful, to practice gratitude, to notice the things that bring us joy, and to pay attention to the work of the Spirit in and among us. That’s a tall order! What if we don’t know what grounds us or brings us joy these days when little is as it should be? How do we recognize the Spirit at work? How do we know what’s ours to do? Sometimes it seems like too much to even try.
These are all questions of discernment, and it’s not as hard as one might think. One of my favorite discernment tools is the prayer of Examen. It’s a daily (ideally) practice of prayerfully examining your day using a series of guiding questions. The practice was developed by Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) as part of his series of Spiritual Exercises in the 1500s. The Examen was the only practice Ignatius would not let his monks skip if they were feeling overwhelmed by their situations—good guidance for us today!
The practice is very flexible, and can be done either individually or in groups. It lends itself well to family dinnertime or bedtime conversations. Regular practice helps us to notice the presence and action of God in our daily lives, and deepens our compassion for ourselves and the people around us. It can help us recognize opportunities for using our gifts in ways that bring us joy. A simple guide for practicing the Examen is outlined below. The individual questions may be modified as needed. If you’re interested in more depth, there’s lots of information online, and I love this very short book, Sleeping with Bread; holding what gives you life by Dennis and Matthew Linn and Sheila Fabricant Linn. There are even apps you can install on your phone to guide you through the practice and provide support (including reminders) for developing a daily practice!
Director of Christian Formation
Quiet your soul.
Give thanks for the gift of life, for God’s presence in your life, and acknowledge that it is only in God we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
Release all the things that clamor for your attention, let them wait ….
Release your preferences, prejudices, pride and will.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and feelings.
When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13-14)
For what moment today was I most grateful?
For what today was I least grateful?
When did I feel most alive today?
When did I most feel life draining out of me?
When did I give and receive the most love today?
When did I give and receive the least love today?
When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe?
When did I have the least sense of belonging?
Ask for forgiveness for any failings you have recognized.
Give thanks for any grace you have received.