Your Weekly Rhythms, Praying the Examen
Leading up to the launch of our 2020 Liturgical Year daily planner I'm sharing one of my favorite aspects of the planner each day. I hope each email is helpful for you, regardless of whether you already have a planner or are considering ordering one. I've tried to craft each note with the focus on offering companionship and guidance in your intentional spiritual formation.
If you are considering a planner for yourself or as a gift, I also hope these emails help you decide if the planner would be a good tool for you to do the work God is inviting you to in this season of your life.
Yesterday we talked about anchoring daily practices that uniquely fit your current season of life. Did it get you thinking about starting or refreshing a daily practice of your own? Today I want to focus on your weekly rhythms and how they can ground you in a way that supports and extends your daily practices (and vice versa).
It’s more about who you are than what you do
Sometimes it seems that our weeks are set for us. We have meetings, deadlines, schedules, commitments, and church activities, many of which we don’t particularly choose for ourselves. When we receive a set schedule, it’s easy to become focused on doing all the activities as they are laid out for us and even fall prey to shame or guilt about the activities we miss.
It may be that very little changes (on the outside) when we think in terms of rhythms and practices rather than schedules and activities, but my heart beats slower. I feel more connected, more present, even more generous with my time and energy when I’m guided by practices that move within a general rhythm.
Your rhythms are more about who you are than what you do. When you think about who you want to be and who God is calling you to be, what are the things that you choose in order to be who God created you to be?
Here are three weekly rhythms we built into the planner:
- Praying the Examen, which is about dwelling in your beloved-ness with God and cultivating a practice of discernment rooted in God’s love and wisdom
- Reading the weekly lectionary texts alongside other Christians around the world, which is about being rooted in scripture and the Church
- Sabbath, which is about resting, delighting in the world God created, and trusting God to be God beyond our work and prayer (more on that in the next email)
A rhythm to ground your week in peace, presence, and purpose
The Examen is a centuries-old practice in the church that invites us to prayerfully reflect on our days in the presence of God. Praying the Examen each Sunday has become one of my favorite rhythms. I find that more often or less often isn't as helpful for me, but once a week is just right.
Many of us want to pray the Examen, but feel like we need prompts to get started. Often we could use some guidance on how often to incorporate the Examen as one of our spiritual practices (without it being the only practice we have time or energy to commit to). Sound familiar?
We built a weekly Examen page into the planner to give you an opportunity to regularly pause and evaluate your life in the context of seven key areas: spirit, body, mind, relationships, home, work, and resources. The key areas serve as prompts to focus on, with space for you to reflect on your previous week and reset for your coming week.
In the planner, we’ve paired the Examen page with the Sabbath page (more on Sabbath in our next email). You can use these pages together on whatever day you happen to take your Sabbath.
Start with what needs tending (then see what grows)
Every week in the planner starts with the Examen page, because this practice is so foundational to crafting the rest of your weekly rhythms. What this prayer reveals to you each week about the invitations God is extending, points to the exact things that need your time, energy, and attention.
The language of consolation and desolation is often used alongside the Examen. We ask ourselves where God felt near to us (consolation) and where we felt far from God (desolation). When we pay attention to where we are now and where God is already at work in our lives, we can start to follow these subtle arrows as they point us toward greater peace, presence, and purpose. We start with what needs tending and then see what grows in our lives.
Often these arrows lead us to focus on tending small, simple things that serve as anchors throughout our week (taking a walk every day, slowing our pace at work, spending more time connecting with a loved one). Sometimes they begin to form larger patterns of focus as a rhythm begins to take shape. In my family, for example, we set aside one day each week (Thursday) to focus on hospitality. We have someone over for dinner or tea or a playdate to intentionally invest in both new and “old” relationships.
It’s YOUR turn...
Today we invite you to take some time and reflect on the activities you feel you have to participate in each week and the anchors you want to prioritize each week. How do they work together to form your weekly rhythm? What does your weekly rhythm look like? Do you have a rhythm? It might be helpful to take a look at your calendar from the past few weeks and see how things have been fitting together and what has (or hasn’t) been working for you. Ask yourself where you are right now and where God is. Pay attention to the arrows you see. What needs tending? How might it grow?
Head over to Instagram or Facebook and share a picture of your daily page using #sacredordinarydays and tag us @sacredordinarydays, please!
Weekly pages for crafting your weekly rhythms
Prayerfully reflect on your days in the presence of God and evaluate your life in the context of seven key areas: spirit, body, mind, relationships, home, work, and resources. This same rhythm of reflecting and resetting repeats at the beginning and end of the planner (so you can mindfully consider your yearly goals and progress), as well as at the beginning of each liturgical season (so you can into each season with intention).
REFLECT & RESET
Use these two columns to examine the seven key areas of your life. In the first column, reflect on each in the context of the previous period of time. How did you attend to that area of your life? What movement happened? What challenges did you face? In the second column, consider how you’d like to tend to that area in the coming period of time.
How are you tending to your soul? How are you and God connecting? What words would you use to describe the way your spirit feels?
What habits are you keeping with your body? What new habits would you like to cultivate? How does your physical body feel these days? How is your energy level?
What are you learning? What would you like to learn? What has been occupying your thoughts? How is the quality of your focus and presence?
What’s going well in your relationships? How are you treating the people around you? What relationships need tending? How can you build into the lives of those who matter to you?
What do you love about your home life? How does it support and comfort you in your current season of life? What needs attention?
How is your work energizing you? How is it draining you? What words would describe your posture toward your work right now? Where do you see God moving in your workplace?
How are you stewarding what has been given to you—your time, money, energy, possessions, education, or experience?
REVISED COMMON LECTIONARY
Our planner draws from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), a widely used ecumenical resource based on a three-year and used in corporate worship across the world and throughout centuries to guide churches through the Christian Scriptures. The weekly lectionary rhythm includes four texts: one each from the Old Testament, the Psalms, an epistle, and the Gospels. Some feast days carry their own lectionary passage, and these are noted on the appropriate days.
Find additional resources about the Examen here on our website.
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Sacred Ordinary Days exists to create tools, curate resources, and help the church connect for the purpose of holistic and rich Christian spiritual formation. Our tools are rooted in ancient practices and rhythms, but translated with a clean aesthetic and accessible language. Ultimately, we believe that helping people grow in Christ-likeness will build the Church and, in turn, the Kingdom. The building blocks are sacred, ordinary days.
Jenn Giles Kemper is the founder and the heart behind Sacred Ordinary Days. A Contemplative Entrepreneur, her passion for business and entrepreneurship, mixed with her heart for ministry and spiritual direction culminated to create Sacred Ordinary Days. Jenn is a lover of color, hospitality, sunshine, shared meals and shared life. She loves connecting about cultivating deep faith, a family, a business, and a home.