Only a few days away until Christmas. How are you feeling about the upcoming day? Excited, anxious, overwhelmed, emotional…. Where have you been seeing Jesus as you prepare for Christmas?
If you are like me, unless I get myself quiet, I am not seeing Jesus. I am seeing my to do list, seeing the yet to dos, the money going out the door and the wonderings of when I will get done what I need to get done.
Notice the feelings
I found myself getting more and more emotional. God, in his gracious timing, sent little reminders that He was with me via Facebook and my devotional reading at just the right time. Those reminders included – How are you staying in your day today? What brings you joy this day? What do you need to do to practice the love and grace Jesus has for you?
Seriously, in the span of less than 30 minutes, I had three reminders, in my face!
“Thank you, Jesus for the reminder of how much you are with me. When I pay attention, I can rely on you to help me do what is in front of me.” I realized I needed to take a deep breathe and do some serious self-care and compassion.
I took a day to do that, in spite of all I had on my to do list. Since we have been talking these last few blogs about quietness and solitude, I took an afternoon to sit by the fire in a nearby café, read an inspirational book, journal and pray.
All of that helped release the negative chatter in my head. Jesus and I had a great chat. What a renewing time with the Prince of Peace I had in the midst of the head chatter I had been experiencing.
Reflect the days
Seeing Jesus this Christmas requires I slow down and reflect my days. It is so easy this time of year to keep rushing from thing to thing, place to place. One practice, the Examen prayer gives you a few moments to look for where you felt close to Jesus during the day and where you felt further away. It’s an opportunity to take a video of your day and notice what is happening underneath the surface of your busyness. Whenever I pause to do this practice, I am amazed at where I realize Jesus was with me in my day.
Practice the Examen
Another name for Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” The practice of the Examen Prayer , based on Ignatian spirituality, gives you an opportunity to reflect on where you noticed Jesus or God being with you during the day. St Ignatius of Loyola proposed this type of mindful praying over 400 years ago to more easily discern God’s presence with us and identify His wisdom and clarity in our lives.
You can practice this prayer in the evening before bed or in the morning when you first get up. The following steps will help you connect with God in a more mindful way:
The Prayer of Examen:
Readiness and awareness. Get yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, a comfortable chair and a journal to write in to jot down some notes on what you notice. Since it is Christmas, you may want to place yourself in front of the Christmas tree after everyone has gone to bed or before everyone gets up. Take a few settling breathes and become aware of God’s presence. You may want to practice your breathe prayer or at least take a few deep breathes to notice your breathing and His presence.
Ask and revisit It may be a blur. Ask Him to bring clarity and understanding to what He wants you to remember. Revisit your day like taking a video of it.
Review and notice with gratitude. Review the highlights of the day. Where do you notice feeling close to Him? Or grateful even for the hard things that He helped you with? Notice your emotions. Where did you feel far away from God? What was interfering?
Choose one thing and pray. God or Jesus may be bringing someone to mind to pray for. Or somewhere you fell short and He’s wanting you to notice something about that situation. Ask Him what you are to understand or realize or even confess about the situation He is bringing to mind.
Look forward to tomorrow Based on the conversation you just had with God or Jesus, what light does He want you to take into the next day? Thank Him for revealing Himself to you.
How Can the Examen Help You See Jesus?
As you begin to practice the Examen prayer, how can it help you see Jesus?
- The main building block of the Examen prayer is mindfulness and awareness. As you practice the Examen, you will begin to see Jesus more often through your day. You will become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit because of your reflections, plus you are training your brain to be more sensitive as well. This awareness gives you more clarity and understanding about God, Jesus and yourself.
- As you become more aware, you also begin to see how you are interacting with those around you, both positively and negatively. This awareness will give you and God many opportunities for changing your life. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. “ The Voice.
- As you become more aware of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your life, you will be able to accept and appreciate more of how He made you. It’s like having a continual conversation with Jesus and hearing His encouragement in your ear.
What about you?
Although the steps of the Examen may seem daunting at first, even practicing the three steps once a week will help you see and know God and Jesus with more clarity in your daily life. I know I am always surprised at how much Jesus is with me throughout my day when I pay attention.
What a Christmas gift that would be to yourself and those around you, noticing Jesus! Jesus is calling you to Himself and wanting to lavish you with love, hope and peace this Christmas. Will you take Him up on those gifts?
Christmas Blessings to you!
Nancy Booth wants to create safe spaces for you, helping you find ways to have two-way conversations with God. She loves encouraging you to look for ways He is at work. Nancy is a spiritual director and writer. She would love to accompany you on your journey of discovery to hear and see more of the God who delights in you. Peace, hope and freedom could be yours Contact her today..