Let Us End with Prayer
Churches struggle. Sometimes they are able to move beyond their brokenness. Sometimes reconciliation is not found. It is a process that is often complicated. Yet, in the beginning, middle, and end it is about God. It is about God and it is about the understanding that God is present right here and right now.
Transformation for a church looking for direction begins with a new understanding of God. God is not just of the living Word found in our Bible. God is living and walking in our world now. God is present to help in discernment. Spiritual practices, including the use of prayer, have been given so that we may understand God’s mission in the world.
The Prayer of Examen is one practice that I have uncovered. It is from Ignatian spirituality and encourages the pray-er to reflect on the day in a hopeful manner so that a person would become more skilled at seeing God's hand in their life. Examen starts by considering where God was during the day. Perhaps, God was seen in the friendly driver that lets you cross the road on a busy street. Or, we see God in the two geese we hear honking overhead making their way to more southerly terrain. The pray-er also looks at those emotions that pulled us from the sight of God during the day. In reflection, we wrestle with those feelings that lead us to be ungrateful. We wonder what God is revealing to our hearts. Is there a pattern to our thoughts and feelings? As the prayer draws to a close, the pray-er leaves with a grateful heart and looks forward to a new day. The Prayer of Examen can be done individually and with a group. For more information, check out this Ignatian Spirituality website http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/
God is here and God is everywhere. God does have a way for us to follow. Discernment, unearthing options, making faithful decisions is often thought to be a complex and remote process. The truth is, the practice of discernment has been done for as long as creation has existed. We become transformed as we see God revealed in the sacred fabric of our days. Seeing God in new ways, giving room to see where God is in the smallest of details, we begin to understand ourselves and each other more deeply. In the space of our prayers we share, we listen, we see, and we understand. God is here and God is still leading.
About the Author: Karen Treat started as intern pastor at Shepherd of the Hills in Edina, Minn., in August 2013. She served as parish nurse at Luther Seminary for nine years, and is a spiritual director. About the Missional Lab series: In Spring 2013, members of Dr. Mary Sue Dreier's "Transforming Congregations for Mission" class launched a deep and broad conversation about how to better follow Jesus in a new era -- an era where the church is losing privilege and nothing can be assumed about the people who go or don't go there.
The blog posts in this Missional Lab series are drawn from those papers. Thanks to the contributors, to Prof. Dreier, and to Luther Seminary's Center for Missional Leadership.
Photo credit: "DSC_0024.JPG" by Le Montage via Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0