So we are a couple of weeks into 2023 and all the hubbub is beginning to die down. Celebrations are over and we’ve taken down the decorations. We’ve either ditched our New Year’s resolutions or we’re starting to get into the swing of them.
Our lives are “returning to normal” – though I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean anymore. Unless normal refers to our routines. I’ve come to realize that we all have routines and habits, whether they are ones we want or ones we want to change.
I was reading a book about creating good habits recently, and believe it or not, the author said there can be a downside to developing strong daily habits. They can make things so routine that we stop noticing where we might need to make progress. He encourages people to have set times of evaluation in their personal lives to avoid the trap of becoming unobservant.
If you didn’t do that yet as the New Year rolled around, I say, it’s not too late. As we enter our sermon series on Praying with Jesus I believe it would be right to consider the spiritual disciplines in your life. There is a Benedictine saying ora et labora which basically means “pray and work” Author Jenn Giles Kemper says her faith community paraphrases it to say “Our prayer is our work and our work is our prayer.”
One ancient practice is a prayer of examen, meaning to examine your life through prayer. The Sacred Ordinary Days Planner suggests the following steps.
- Draw near to God. Become present. Rest your mind and heart.
- Reflect on the previous week with a posture of humility and gratitude.
- As you pray, consider your: spirit, body, mind, relationships, home, work, resources or any other category you find helpful.
- Note what surfaces. When have you been near to or far from God’s presence?
- Ask God to guide your reflections to be both faithful and gracious.
- Reset for the week to come. Move forward in a spirit of hope.
I am learning to do this so that I drawer nearer to God while paying attention to the things He directs me to and let go of things that don’t have any real significance. I encourage you to try this practice as well.