Dancing from Prayer
I immediately, during my prayer time, picked up my phone, tears of conviction in my eyes and searched: “dance classes in Dunfermline.” I booked my wife and I into those classes in Townhill community centre, arranged a babysitter and text my wife to tell her. And all this from a spiritual practice called the Daily Examen.
I was reading a book and heard about someone praying the daily “Examen.” This person described how helpful this method of prayer had been to their spiritual formation. I was intrigued and so did a little research and bought the book:
This is why the Examen is so awesome and powerful. It brings my nitty-gritty to God and God to my nitty-gritty. Mark Thibodeaux
The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.
Ignatius believed the Daily Examen was a gift from God, and wanted his Jesuits to practice it twice every day – during the noon hour and at the end of the day.
I have to say at first I was a little suspicious and wondered if this was some weird type of spiritual practice but the more I learned about it the more I wanted to give it a go.
I don’t know about you but hearing from God is not easy. It’s sometimes very difficult to discern what is God’s voice from my own. I also found that often when praying, my mind would wander and I would be easily distracted. There would be times I would be wondering what to pray about and often repeated the same prayers every day.
So I gave the Examen prayer a go and I have to say, I found it incredibly helpful. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that I have heard God speak to me personally more through using this form of prayer than any other.
There is a real emphasis on hearing God speak to you and the Daily Examen gives you a number of questions to ask yourself and God. Through this questioning, I found God speaking to me personally in powerful ways. When I say heard God speaking, I mean I had thoughts in my head that came as someone speaking. I heard thoughts of gentle conviction of areas I needed to get sorted out. I heard thoughts of affirmation, comfort and encouragement from a loving Father. I heard thoughts of things I must do immediately that were very practical.
From one of these sessions, I immediately researched dance classes in Dunfermline and booked my wife and I into dance classes. I booked the babysitter and let my wife know we were going dancing. She had wanted to go to dance classes for years and I had stubbornly refused. However, during my prayer time using the Examen, I was convicted that love puts others people’s desires above their own. That dance class was fun and very difficult but also so good for Lynsey and I. The challenge was keeping them up which I am challenged about even as I type.
The point is, that God is speaking and wants to speak to us but we must posture ourselves to be able to hear.
Good conversation requires good questioning and good listening.
And the Daily Examen really helps with this as it provides daily great questions to ask God. Now, some are very challenging questions and not easy to ask. But, we are coming to a loving Father who wants to help us change and grow for the better so this is such a helpful practice for spiritual formation in our lives.
Would you like to grow spiritually? Would you like to hear God’s voice more? Would you like to become the better version of you that bears the fruit of peace, love and joy? Well, the Daily Examen is one spiritual practice you can add to your life that will help you with this. At it’s core, it’s a style of prayer that helps you to connect with God, hear His voice and grow spiritually.
The Examen is a five -step simple routine that involves:
Relish – Give Thanksgiving
Request – Ask for the Spirit
Review – and recognise failures
Repent – Ask for forgiveness and healing
Resolve – Pray about the next day
Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ says it wonderfully in his book:
“I could go on and on about how wonderful the Examen is.
I could tell you:
- how it unites me ever closer to God
- how it reveals God’s perspective on my everyday life
- how it stirs me to give praise and thanksgiving for the countless gifts of God that have popped up in my day, and even to perceive the very presence of God in those gifts
- how it gives me an opportunity to recognize and apologize for my faults, and to grieve my failures and hurts and receive healing from them how it brings insight into what is really going on beneath the surface of my thoughts, words, and actions—into the very source of my motivations and machinations
- how it helps me discern how to handle the trickier aspects of my life, to know what interior gifts I need from God to do the right thing tomorrow, and to ask God for those gifts explicitly
I could provide pages of details about all these unbelievable benefits I receive from praying this brief prayer every day. But why waste another minute reading about the benefits when you can reap them for yourself? You’ll know just what I’m talking about as soon as you try it.”
Thibodeaux, Mark E.. Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day . Loyola Press. Kindle Edition.
So why not give it a go? The book above gives you 34 Examens to pray through. I have found them deeply challenging and refreshing and helpful. It’s certainly worth looking into if you would like to grow spiritually in 2020.
You can buy it from Amazon below or buy it on Kindle: