As the regular blogger for this day isn't able to start until April, we welcome Victoria Ireland to the blog today. She is guest posting with a very thoughtful look at all family prayer. I love the photo which companies this. So without further ado I hand you over to Victoria.
I have longed to establish a habit for bedtime prayers with and for our children. I have spent many hours wondering how best to do this; asking God, and questioning friends about what works for them. Some methods I've tried have felt too much like saying prayers by rote. On the other hand, leading our children, who share a bedroom, in individual prayers feels a little too public. They may not want to share deep feelings in earshot of their siblings and when one child says that they have nothing to say sorry for, others will be all too willing to remind them! Even I am tempted sometimes, when a child states that there is nothing that they need to say sorry for, to (not so gently) jog their memory!
The Examen, a prayer developed more than 400 years ago by St. Ignatius of Loyola feels like a wonderful solution to this angst, and to my inner control freak. Using the Examen I can lead us all in a silent prayer. I can create a moment and a space, while recognising that only God and each child together can make it significant. I let go and leave God to work in their hearts. He is the only one who can.
The Examen is a wonderful contemplative prayer, which offers us a way to see God’s presence in our lives day by day. At its simplest the Examen guides us to review two moments in our day: The highest point and the lowest point. In their beautifully illustrated book, Sleeping With Bread, the Linns share a variety of ways of asking this question. Here are two examples:
When did I give and receive the most love today?
When did I give and receive the least love today?
When was I happiest today?
When was I saddest today?
As testimony to the significance of this prayer, Ignatius instructed his followers "when busy skip everything (in prayer) except the Examen." During the past month I have begun journaling my responses and already I have seen distinct patterns that I had not previously noticed in over a year of intermittent Examens; patterns that I can explore more deeply in prayer.
If you'd like to learn more about The Examen, here are my favourite resources:
My original inspiration from Ignatian Spirituality
Sleeping With Bread, a beautifully illustrated guide by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, & Matthew Linn
Mars Hill Church Examen
I would love to hear from you about how you remember learning to pray from your parents, or how you pray with your own children?
Victoria is mum to three boys, a fundraiser and a writer. She writes mission-focussed resources for the children & youth team at the Methodist Church, and blogs about her contemplative journey at Expectantly Listening. Victoria shares resources and reflections for personal quiet times, alongside her ideas for sharing contemplative experiences as a family in the midst of a busy, hectic home. If you like meditative prayer do check out her audio files, suitable for all ages. You can also connect with Victoria on twitter, and Pinterest.