Power Up Your Prayers

3 Minute Prayer That Can Change Your Life

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It’s called the examen, a Christian mindfulness tool developed by 16th century mystic St. Ignatius of Loyola. Its objective is to bring us closer to God.

The examen is a series of short reflections and questions that asks us, first, what is drawing us near God and, sec­ond, what is drawing us away from God. What fears and worries are blocking us from seeing and feeling God in our lives? Ignatius believed that it is often easy for us to overlook God in our actions and thoughts. He also believed that it was important not only to pay attention to what was going on inside the head, but even more so to pay atten­tion to what was going on inside the heart.

This practice is not meant to shame us if we feel we haven’t lived up to either our expectations or God’s expectations. Instead, it’s a method of realiz­ing that our life matters and the things that we do—or don’t do—can impact everyone around us.

The examen is usually performed at night before we go to sleep. It allows us to replay the day we are leaving behind, and helps us become more aware of how to live out the next day. It can take as little as three minutes to do and I’ve found it often helps with insomnia. So, not only does this exercise help you draw closer to God, but it helps you get sleep as well. I’ve broken the examen down into 6 easy steps.

1. Ask God to Be Revealed.
Literally just ask, “God, please reveal yourself to me.” If necessary, imagine you’re in a dark room with a dimmer switch. In this room, it’s hard to make out what’s in front of us, though we know something is there. We ask God to gradually increase the light: “God, help me to see what’s in the room with me. Help me to see the people and things in the world before me. Help me to see you better.” Imagine the light in the room getting brighter and brighter.

2. Cultivate Gratitude
Give thanks for the day. Give thanks for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the homes that provide us shelter. Give thanks for our families and friends. Try to be thankful for all the people we meet during the day, everyone from the jovial secu­rity guard to the tired waitress in desperate need of a break. Give thanks to God for that person who drove slowly earlier in the day when you were running late for a meeting. Maybe that laggard was God’s way of slowing us down to protect us from being harmed in an accident.

3.  Pay Attention to Your Emotions
Sometimes our heads can get in the way of our hearts. Many of us have minds that never stop jumping from one thing to another. But it’s important to pay attention to our emotions, especially if we’re experiencing blockages. Ignatius believed that our emotions are able to carry us closer to God when they are free-flowing, just as they can stall us when there are barriers. What is God saying to us in the feelings we have about the day, in the angry, anxious, depressed, or hopeful and happy feelings we experienced at work or at home? Ask God for help to untangle these experiences.

4. Choose Something Great That Happened Today and Pray About It
Maybe you had a great conversation with a friend. Explore what made you feel good. Was it just laughs, or did you learn something? Pray for that friend; take that experience into your heart and ponder it there. Make the experience a prayer to God.

5. Ask, Where Was God for Me Today?
Was God present in your actions? Ignatius asks us to seek God in all things, so the question becomes whether or not we see God in our work, in the less fortunate, or in the friend who is going through a divorce. If we are angry at our brother or sister, we know that we are angry at God. We are called to forgive, and if we are struggling to do so, then we can ask God for help.

6. Bless the Tomorrow
We ask God to guide us on this journey we call life. Though this might seem almost rote or silly, asking God for directions is an important part of our lives. From time to time, all of us need to stop for directions. Before you finish your prayer, ask God to point you where you need to go. Then be still. Trust that God is guiding you in everything you are doing and get some sleep.

Adapted from a Fox News faith article by Gary Jansen dated March 3, 2018.  Gary Jansen, an executive editor at Penguin Random House, has written on spirituality for over a decade.

in Faith

52 Ways to Pray!

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  1. Map- Pull out a map. What country is drawing your attention? What challenges and struggles might they face? Pray for the people of that country, including the missionaries serving there.
  2. Stretches- Stretch over your head and thank God that He is watching over you. Stretch to the side and thank God that He is always beside you. Stretch towards your toes and thank God that He guides your steps.
  3. Newspaper Headlines- Get a newspaper and search the headlines. When one catches your attention, pray for the situation and those involved.
  4. Prayer Closet- Designate a space in your home that is just for you. Maybe it is a closet, a chair in the corner, or place in the yard. Make this your space to grow with God.
  5. Pictures- Flip through a coffee book, Google images, glance at screensavers. When an image grabs your eye, pray about the emotions and thoughts that go through your head.
  6. Makeup- As you put on your makeup each morning, reflect on how God created you beautiful in His image. How does He see you as His beautiful child?
  7. Body Language- Strike a pose that symbolizes how you feel. Tell God about your emotions while staying in that pose. Example: curled up when you’re sad, raised hands when feeling joyful, fight stance when angry…
  8. Music- Listen to a favorite song that expresses how you are feeling. Turn the lyrics into a conversation with God.
  9. Dear God- Write a letter to God sharing your hopes and dreams for the future.
  10. Prayer Wall- Hang a sheet of paper on the wall. Write your prayers on the wall and look them over as God answers in His time. Add to the prayers and update God’s answers.
  11. Hands On- Find an object that symbolizes a struggle you have. Pray for the issue while holding the object.
  12. Sense of Sight- Look around you. What do you see that reminds you of God? Tell Him.
  13. Sense of Smell- Take a sniff. What great smells are around you? Give God glory!
  14. Sense of Touch- Touch something soft, rough, wet, hot, cold, etc…how does it remind you of God?
  15. Sense of Taste- Take a bite of your favorite food. Praise God for this blessing and providing for your needs.
  16. Sense of Hearing- Sit in a quieter space. What do you hear? What does it tell you about God?
  17. Lord’s Prayer- Read Matthew 6:9-12. Pray the Lord’s prayer, pausing between lines to think about the real meaning and what it means in your life.
  18. Psalms- David wrote beautiful music and prayers. Read a Psalm and consider what David is praying. Do you have similar thoughts and prayers?
  19. Driving Time- Use your time in the car to reflect on God. Play praise music, listen to a sermon on tape, or talk aloud to God about your day.
  20. Breathe- Take a deep breath in and thank God for life, naming a blessing. Take a deep breath out and praise God, naming a characteristic of Him. Repeat over and over.
  21. Photos- Flip through your photos or a scrapbook. Stop with each photo and talk to God about the scene, the people, or the experience.
  22. Labyrinth- Pick a shape. As you walk the room in that shape, listen for God with each step and breath you take.
  23. Stones- Pick a stone and hold it in the palm of your hand. As you rub the stone, notice the size, shape, texture, weight of the stone. Connect each with a part of your life and share with God.
  24. Overflowing Cup- Gather a tea cup, slips of paper, and pen. On each slip of paper, write a blessing in your life. Continue until the cup is overflowing. Thank God for each blessing and gift He has given you.
  25. Prayer Partner- Find a person you trust to pray with you on a regular basis. Keep that person and their requests in your prayers every day. Share your requests with them to be prayed for as well.
  26. People Watching- Sit in the mall, Starbucks, or other public place and watch people. Pray for them specifically as the walk by. Pray they may know God, that He heals their hurt, that they give God praise, etc.
  27. Family Tree- Draw your family tree. As you add each name to the tree, pray for that person and their needs.
  28. Morning Prayers- Before your feet hit the ground in the morning, say good morning to God and ask for His help for the day. Post a reminder by your alarm clock, on your ceiling, or even in your slippers.
  29. Night Prayers- Before your head hits the pillow at night, look back on your day. Look for God’s work in your day, bring him any concerns, and give them thanks.
  30. Sky Gazing- Lay a blanket on the ground and look up at the sky. Watch the clouds during the day or the stars at night. Pray to God about how big He is as our creator and how small we are as his creation.
  31. Prayer Hike- Go on a hike. As you peacefully walk, look carefully at creation and give God thanks.
  32. Thank You Cards- Thank God for the special people in your life. Make a thank you card for each of them and write your prayer in the inside.
  33. Poetry- Open a journal or notebook and let your inner poet come out with prayers to God.
  34. Food Prayers- Stop and pray every time you eat, meals or snacks, brief or long, aloud or silent. Let food be a physical reminder of how God always provides for you.
  35. Clay- Sculpt an image that is in your heart. Lift it up to God as an offering. Put it in a place
  36. Rewriting Psalms- Open up to Psalms, pick your favorite, and rewrite David’s prayers in your own words.
  37. Reading Hymns- Borrow a hymn book from church or google hymns. Read these historic, famous, and moving songs as a prayer. Look up the story behind them and be inspired to write your own.
  38. Enemies- Go to God concerning the person that you are struggling with. Don’t just pray for the conflict, but pray for your enemy personally and their situation in life.
  39. Silence- “Be still & know that I am God.” Listen, just be still and listen for the voice of God.
  40. Hanging Quotes/Scripture- Put a favorite inspirational quote or Bible verse on post it notes. Hang the notes where you will see them several times a day.
  41. Candle- Light a candle, take a deep breath, and come to a peaceful place where you can just relax in the love of God. What is He speaking to you?
  42. Paint- Using paint and paper, express your prayer artistically to God. Don’t worry about talent, let your heart speak openly to the ultimate artist.
  43. Meditation Phrases- Pick a verse in the Bible, go to a quiet place, and repeat the verse over and over. Ask God to reveal the meaning to you and the purpose for it in your life.
  44. Images of Jesus- Google different images of Jesus. Look at each, see the similarities, see the differences. Think about who each image was created for. Think about how you see Jesus. Why does that image come to mind?
  45. Holding a Cross- Hold in your hand a pocket cross, a wooden cross, or even a nail. Reflect on the death of Christ and the significance in your life of that sacrifice.
  46. Prayer Walk- Walk around your neighborhood. Pause in front of houses, praying for the residents. Pause in front of businesses, praying for their jobs. Talk to people and pray for them as you walk.
  47. Drawing- Sketch out an image that is in your heart. Lift it up to God as an offering.
  48. Time Capsule- Gathering images of your faith journey. Put them in a box and bury it as a time capsule. In a year, dig it up and talk to God about how far He has brought you in life.
  49. Paint Chips- Go to the store and collect a variety of paint chips. Pick a color that reflects your feelings and talk to God about why you choose that color.
  50. Sports- Play your favorite sport. Focus on your muscles, heart, and breathing. Give God thanks for your physical abilities and health, live in wonder and amazement of His creation.
  51. Apples- Have an apple for a snack. As you look at the seeds, fruit, and skin, reflect on the Trinity and the different roles of our God.
  52. Bath- Take a nice, long, hot bath. As you soak and relax, reflect on your baptism and its significance in your life.

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