Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) and John Wesley (1703–1791) lived more than a century apart and in very different contexts. But both created a means of self-examination to aid in their spiritual transformation. Ignatius recommended that those in the religious order he formed pray an “examen” prayer twice a day to open themselves to the Holy Spirit and to discern the movements of their soul either toward or away from God. John Wesley, similarly, formed a series of twenty-two questions that he and his small group in Oxford asked themselves each night, including, “Did the Bible live in me today? Am I enjoying prayer?” Both men longed to be changed and molded by the Spirit to be more like Jesus.
Prayerful self-examination is rooted in the Bible. In Psalm 139, for example, King David reflects on how the Lord examines his heart and knows him inside and out (Psalm 139:1). He phrases this same thought in several different ways (Psalm 139:2-5), as if to get the truth of God’s intimate relationship with him rooted deeply not only in his mind but in his heart. It’s like he’s turning a diamond over in his palm, examining its many facets with wonder and thanksgiving.
Reflecting on this truth leads David to want to know himself better to draw closer to God. David examined his motives and behavior, asking God to guide him and help him see what he might be missing—such as hidden sins or things he’d buried—“anything” that might offend God (Psalm 139:24). Like Ignatius and Wesley, he chose to trust God to guide him “along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:24).
Let’s pause and seek the Spirit’s guidance as we consider prayerfully how we might draw closer to our God throughout the day.
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”