A spiritual rule will enable you to approach your spiritual growth systematically. Because the rule is outlined and specific you will be able to measure and chart my growth. You will also be able to pinpoint areas that need improvement as well as spiritual areas where you excel. The spiritual disciplines I have studied and will discuss are as follows: Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer, Fasting, Prayer Walking, Centering Prayer, Spiritual Friendship, Examine and Journaling. Below is a brief explanation of the highlighted spiritual discipline.
Examine is “a practice for discerning the voice and activity of God within the flow of the day. It is a vehicle that creates deeper awareness of God given desires in one’s life.”[i] The practice of Examine can be traced back to Ignatius of Loyola.
In his book the Spiritual Exercise, Ignatius gives us an outline of how we can notice the traces of God within our lives. He states that the first key step to performing examine is to consider the end for which we are created, which is to praise God for the salvation of our souls. Next we are to reach a state of indifference. In this state of indifference we should not prefer thoughts like “health to sickness or riches to poverty”. This will enable us to be aware that “just because we like something doesn’t mean it’s from God.” In contrast it will also free us to the idea that God may also exist in situations that are extremely unpleasant to us.[ii] Once we are able to arrive at a place of “clear intention” and “indifference” we can then move to reflecting back on a time period to see where God was and the role that God played.
- Begin by remembering why we were created – to Praise God
- Approach the day or week you are going to examine with indifference (be willing to not feel one way or another about it)
- Once you feel indifferent or have a clear intention, Reflect on the period of time chosen
- Notice the areas where God was present and where more of your own self/ego was present
- Reflect on the areas where God was present and be grateful
- Think of ways you can allow more of God in the areas where you saw God least
- Beginning and ending in prayer can be very helpful for this practice