Prayer of Examen

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 1:9-10

As I lay my head on my pillow at night, with a deep sigh of relief I begin to mentally sift through my day. I begin by asking God to help me see where He was present in my day. What are the things that happened today that I am so grateful for? Beginning with when I woke up and mentally stepping back into my day, I begin to look, as an outsider, into the actions/attitudes/responses of my day.

Welling up with gratefulness, I remember the small moments of laughter with my children that day. I see the faces of friends who came to bring a gift to our daughter after an injury. I reflect on the tiny moments also, the sun that poured through window in which I quickly turned and was embraced by the warm light.

With a little bit of resistance, I then ask the Holy Spirit to walk back through my day again and help me to see where I was not paying attention to His prompting. Beginning with the morning, I remember how slow I was to wake up and possibly quite a bit cranky when my children interrupted my morning coffee time. I see myself teaching one of my children at the table and feel the regret as I remember how I was not as patient or encouraging as I could of been in that moment. God invites me to offer those moments back to Him, to turn back and ask for His help in these areas for the next day.

“The examen makes us aware of moments that at first we might easily pass by as insignificant, moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.”

Dennis Linn

This simple practice is called the Prayer of Examen. Combined with lectio divina, this practice is helping me to become more aware of God’s presence throughout my day. Lectio is bringing the meditative power of the word into my day and the examen is bringing the reflective power of a soul anticipating God’s invitation in my ordinary moments.

Asking myself these questions every night brings to my attention where God is present in my day. This awareness and remembrance helps me to notice what I might otherwise miss due to the busyness of life. I sometimes miss those moments where I feel intense gratitude because life keeps on moving. I also skip right pass those moments where God is inviting me to be a presence of peace for others, but I choose impatience instead.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”


While I think Socrates is being a bit dramatic here, I agree that the examined life brings a FULLNESS that otherwise gets missed. Taking the time to examen our day takes only a few moments at the end of each day. My practice takes about 5 minutes… or until I fall asleep.

Just like the vines in the above picture, the interweaving of the disciplines into my daily rhythm creates something beautiful out of the ordinary, muddy boots and messy bun moments of life.

Soul Tending Invitation: Prayer of Examen

The Prayer of Examen began around 400 years ago through a Jesuit priest named Ignatius of Loyola. He realized that by reflecting on His day, in prayer, it made him even more aware of God’s presence as He was with him through the day. This prayer also focuses on the feelings that rise up in us as we reflect on our day. We can bring those feelings before God and ask Him to guide us in prayer as we explore the reasons behind those feelings even more.

There are many different ways of practicing the Examen. Some prefer to sit with a journal and write their way through the prompts. Others choose a different time of day, like mid afternoon, to practice the examen. The examen can also be done as a reflection after each season or even at the end of the year/beginning of a new year.

Here is one way to begin this practice.

  1. Begin by taking a few deep breaths and bringing yourself to this present moment.
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to walk with you as you mentally revisit your day and show you where God was present.
  3. Beginning with the start of your day, mentally walk through the events from beginning to end. Pay attention to the emotions that rise up in you as you get to different events. If you notice emotions rising to the surface, offer those to God in prayer. Spend some time reflecting.
  4. Now pay attention to what you are grateful for from the past 24 hours. What stands out? Thank God for those little and big events that bring you gratitude.
  5. Are there moments from your day that feel like you were being drawn away from God? Spend some time in prayer, confession and reflection.
  6. Thank God for being with you today and for the awareness that He has given you of His presence. Ask Him now to be with you again tomorrow and for a greater awareness of His constant presence.


“If there is any concept worth restoring to its original depth and evocative potential, it is the concept of hospitality.”

Henri Nouwen

Giving respect to the space between the meal and the clean- up, we all sit around the table not ready yet to interrupt the sacred space. Stomachs are full, the kids have run off to play and we begin to offer tea or coffee to our guests. They politely refuse, but instead begin to ask us more questions about why we are here. Why would we bring our family of 6 to this exact city and country?

We both begin to explain, sharing stories of how God called us and how God was faithful to provide. Our guests began sharing stories about their faith traditions with us, but also telling us how good it is that we are here. They haven’t found many people that speak English and so they said they have been lonely. Leaving our home that day, they said they would be back soon. This time, they would cook us some Indian food.

We came to Hungary knowing that Christian hospitality was to be a fundamental part of our ministry, but we weren’t sure who the Lord would ask us to invite into our home. So, we waited for people of peace to become evident. It didn’t take long before we began connecting with international college students that would come by the church service. We began to invite students into our home to cook an “American” meal for them. Then it would turn into them coming back again to cook an authentic dish from their country for our family.

“If, when we open the door, we are oriented toward seeing Jesus in the guest, then we welcome that person with some sense that God is already at work in his or her life.”

Christine D. Pohl


God has kept opening doors for students to come and feel at home here in our flat. Our prayer is that it will continue to be a safe place for students, of all backgrounds and religions, to experience the love of Jesus and to ask deeper questions of faith. Some students come to our church community on Sundays, especially if they are believers of Jesus. Other students, who are not believers of Jesus, will gladly come to our home, but not make a commitment to come back to church.

We are seeing first hand what we have believed for quite some time, a ministry of hospitality (outside the four walls of the church) is an imperative part of reaching others for Jesus.

“The future of Christian hospitality is partly tied to the future of the home and family. Recovering hospitality will involve reclaiming the household as a key site for ministry and then reconnecting the household and the church, so that the two institutions can work in partnership for the sake of the world.”

Christine D. Pohl,

Just as we are accepted and loved into the safe arms of Christ, we too can extend the gift of acceptance and love through Christ. Hospitality is an act of opening our homes and our hearts in order to give others the love of Christ, through the overflow that we have received.

During this Difficult COVID time, we have been unable to open our home as much as we would of liked. Great news, we can show hospitality in so many ways! Gathering up items to make American Apple Cider kits, we put gift bags together to deliver to people at their front door. My daughters helped me to write out verses to include in each bag and we hope that the Love of Christ was extended with each one we delivered.

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Romans 15:7


Where is God inviting you to be hospitable this week?



  1. the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Hospitality can take on many different forms during varying seasons of life. The breaking of bread with others around a communal table can be seen many places in the Bible. I have also witnessed hospitality as an act of creating a sacred space for others to safely share their hearts no matter where this might take place. Hospitality can look like giving time to your neighbor as you chat across backyard fences, taking food to a widower on your street or simply offering to create space in your family for someone where family simply doesn’t exist.

Here are some practical ways you can think about hospitality as a spiritual discipline this next week:

  1. Take some time first and offer up this discipline to the Lord. He knows what people you will come across and who He wants you to welcome into your moments this next week. Pray that He will send you people of peace.
  2. Keep your eyes and heart open to those around you. Who might be someone that you can extend an invitation towards this week? It might be for a simple cup of coffee on the front porch or a meal in your home. It could simply be a person who comes to church alone and would appreciate sitting with a family this next Sunday. There are so many ways to be hospitable!
  3. Think about some ways that you can extend hospitality on “the go” this week. This can look like delivering cookies and a note of blessing to someone you want to encourage. It can be calling someone who lives far away and giving them honored space in your day. Even paying for the person in front of you at Starbucks this week!
  4. Generously consider how God might lead you to open your home to others as a spiritual discipline. There are more ideas that I can list, but some are: game night for college students, a front yard ice cream party for the kids that live on your street, a tea party for high school teenage girls or a backyard bonfire with someone you have just met.
  5. Consider ways that you can show hospitality, a generous welcome, to others outside of your home: serving your church community, a homeless shelter, the firehouse down the street or a nursing home.

Lectio Divina

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10

Winter brings with it the hope of Spring to come. Planning out a garden for the spring brings me hope of the new season. I think back to the last spring, our first spring in Hungary. Working silently on my rooftop, I would look over the edge and see rows of small orange tiled roofs. It’s different, tending a garden high above everyone else.

After such a quiet and dark winter, the smell of the wet soil woke up my senses. I knelt over the garden box and with one finger I pulled it along the top of the dark soil, a shallow trench following my movements. Then with my other hand I dropped seeds. A few at a time they fell into their new home. Out of the envelope and into the perfect environment for growth. Their time of waiting is over. I finish, row by row. dropping dry, seemingly dead, seeds into my garden boxes. Will they work this time?

I loosened up the soil and I promised myself I would consistently check for weeds. Not giving up that year, I successfully buried dozens of zinnia seeds. I secretly hoped they will pop up in neat little green rows and that by the end of summer they would produce an abundance of brightly colored petals. The abundance would not happen overnight. It was going to take months of tending and added rhythms to my day to intentionally care for them.

I began my garden that year with good intentions, but I still wondered, will my good intentions lead to an abundant garden?

“In the end, this is the most hopeful thing any of us can say about spiritual transformation. I cannot transform myself, or anyone else for that matter. What I can do is create the conditions in which spiritual transformation can take place, by developing and maintaining a rhythm of spiritual practices that keep me open and available to God.”  

Ruth Haley Barton- Sacred Rhythms

I believe that our souls can often reflect those little seeds planted. In fact, Jesus often referenced plants, soil, weeds and seeds in the word to help us understand the kingdom in a way we would relate to. Transformation happens in our soul as our daily spiritual rhythms take place. Weaving throughout our days are natural rhythms. They are not hard and don’t feel like work to get started.

As I awake in the morning, I begin my morning rhythm of getting ready. For me that means meeting my husband at the table and sitting down to a cup of coffee while entering the day slowly. A gentle reminder is all I need, the smell of the brew. Coffee is waiting and it’s time to put my feet on the floor. It’s a welcome invitation.                

After coffee and breakfast, I make my way back to my room and roll out my yoga mat. Laying out my devotional book, bible and journal in front of me, I start with a short scripture.

As I stretch, I feel the short scripture making its way into my soul. Using Lectio Divina, I re-read the short passage four times over, each time praying and asking the Lord to speak to me.

A word or phrase will be brought to mind and I meditate on what the Lord wants to say to me through that short part of the scripture. Some days I really am not sure and so I offer it back to the Lord and ask him to show me. I trust him to do the work.

As I finish up my morning stretches, I sit with my journal and pen. Writing, for me, is another way I connect with God. The words flow and I can better hear his heartbeat for me. The Son is providing food for the garden of my soul.

This time all together is not long, and it does not feel like work. These quiet moments are an anchor in my morning and a daily rhythm of grace. I don’t expect one season of my life to look like the last. Each season has its own challenges and blessings. In this season, I draw the line in my soil and plant the seeds that match my circumstances.

Continuing in my day, I find little pockets of time when I can meditate again on the short scripture, I read that morning. Warm, bubbly water and a line of dirty dishes on the counter give me the gift of a mental freeload. While my hands are busy washing, my soul is connecting with the Lord again over those same words I read that morning.

If I have forgotten the seeds planted, I will ask the Spirit to give me new words to meditate on during this silence, turn on some worship music or spend time in praise and thanksgiving. The garden continues to be nurtured in little moments throughout my day. Each tiny drop adds up to a well filled cup by the end of the day.

“Pray to God for rain- it’s time for the spring rain- to God, the rainmaker, Spring thunderstorm maker, maker of grain and barley.”

Zechariah 10:1 (MSG)

These spiritual rhythms in my day have become a gift. They are the water for my soul. The daily tending of my soil. Just like the seeds I whole heartedly planted, the rhythms must stay in place for an abundant growth, but they don’t need to feel heavy. The Lord’s burden is light and therefore our moments with Him should feel more like an invitation from a friend, as a reprieve of our burdens.

The cycle of planting is never done. Each season and throughout the season I will continue replanting in my treetop garden. I will try my best to keep the rhythms of watering and weeding daily so that the growth can continue at a steady rate and not choke out the new life growing. My soul tending continues in much the same way, daily rhythms set in place and good intentions to keep my soul watered, trusting in God to do the work of transformation.

Spiritual Discipline Invitation: Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is an ancient Christian practice that began in the 6th century. It is latin for “divine reading.” It is a discipline of contemplatively reading the scriptures, in short sections, listening for the Spirit’s leading as you read. There are four main parts to Lectio Divina: reading, reflecting, responding and resting. The entire process should feel unhurried. Unlike Eastern practices, this practice does not invite you to empty your mind, instead you are practicing the presence of God by paying attention, in prayer, to what God is speaking to you through the scripture.

  1. Choose a short section of scripture to read through today.
  2. Invite the Holy Spirit to come with simple words such as, “Holy Spirit, come and meet me here.”
  3. Lectio- Read the short section of scripture you have chosen. Read the scripture through slowly and pay attention to a word or phrase that seems like it is speaking directly to you. Reread the scripture as many times as you need. Slowly. What word “shines?” You can read it aloud or silently. Reread the phrase or word that seems like it is meant for you today. Thank the Lord for that word.
  4. Meditatio- Reflect and seek understanding on how it applies to your life. Read the scripture you have chosen again and as you read it, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand why this word is meant for you today. How does this passage connect with your life? You may need to sit in a few moments of quiet as you quiet your inner voice and wait for the words from the Spirit. If you want, you can use your imagination and picture yourself with God, receiving this word. You can also imagine yourself in the scene that is set in the story (if the verse is from a bible story). Take your time.
  5. Oratio- Respond in conversation with God For the third time, read the scripture again. Listen this time for your response to what you feel the Lord saying to you. What emotions do you feel? Pay attention and ask the Spirit to guide as you discover together your response. You may need to “do” something in response to this word today or you may just need to respond to the word in your time with the Lord. Spend a few moments in prayer, silence, and honesty before God. It should FEEL like an invitation from the Holy Spirit, not an unwelcome push.
  6. Contemplatio- Rest in God One more time, read this passage and rest in the Word of God. In these moments, release what you have heard back to the Lord and rest in the comfort He gives. Spend time yielded as you surrender your life to God and rest in Him.
  7. Lastly, now it is time to live it out. Throughout your day continue to think on this scripture. Mull over the words (meditate), let them continue to speak to you and sink into your soul. Carry this word with you and commit to responding to the word in action and thought.