The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching continuing our 31 Days of Prayer. As your whole Community gathers (online or socially distanced), use the Community Guide below to give shape to your night together.
Begin by Practicing the Lord’s Supper Together (5 minutes)
Begin your night by partaking of the bread and the cup together. Have each person bring their own Communion elements. To facilitate your time, you can either ask a member of your Community to come ready with a short prayer, liturgy, or scripture reading, or assign someone to read this prayer we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants
give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts
we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up ourselves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be all honor and glory, throughout all ages. Amen.
Emotional Health Check-in (20 Minutes)
Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the questions below:
- What does connecting with God look like for you right now?
- Where do you see God at work in your life?
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s voice to be clear in each other’s lives. Specifically pray and ask that God would allow each person to see/sense/feel/hear/experience God’s presence where they need to this week.
Scripture Reading (5 Minutes)
Assign one reader to read Psalm 139 aloud for your Community. After reading, spend 30–60 seconds in silence.
Read this Overview (2 Mins)
For many of us, if we are honest,our felt-experience is the exact opposite of David’s in Psalm 139. Instead of feeling like God is all around us, leading us, and always with us, we feel far from God, alone, confused, and on our own in a secular age. Instead of feeling like we are fearfully and wonderfully made, we feel insecure and racked with shame. Instead of feeling that God has a story and adventure for us to live out, we feel that our life is our own, or that it’s unimportant and uncertain. And instead of living with a healthy outlet for our anger and anxiety, we often leak our emotional pain all over others.
The question is: how do we live a more Psalm 139 life?
The apex of the psalm is v23:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
The word “test” is behan in Hebrew. It was a word used for testing metals by melting. To draw out the impurities and refine the precious metal. To try to test the genuineness of an object by examination. Which is why, some translations have “Examine me and know my anxious thoughts.”
To that end, this week we’ll be exploring the historic discipline of the Examen. The Examen is a form of prayer in which you examine your day with God, looking for signs of his presence and love. The Examen is meant to be practiced at the end of the day, in which you spend time receiving your day with God from the time you woke up from the time you are going to sleep. This week we’ll practice the Examen each evening by moving through four rhythms: Recall, Rejoice, Repent, and Renew.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (15 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- Do you feel like its easier to see God’s activity in the past than it is in the present? Why?
- What do you think you’d notice if you slowed down at the end of the day to Examen your day with God?
- What are you looking forward to in this Practice? What makes you nervous or uncomfortable with it?
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we might be a people who lean into our Father and who yearn to hear his voice. Ask that God would stir up within us a desire to be with him in prayer.
Practice For The Week Ahead: Examen (5 Minutes)
This week’s practice is fixed hour prayer morning, noon, and night. The idea is to practice these short prayer times each morning, noon, and evening. Last week we talked about praying a Psalm in the morning and the Lord’s Prayer at noon. You can find a refresher on those here.
This week, we want to add to that an evening prayer practice of the Examen. Here’s what that looks like:
Examen: Find a time at the end of your day to pause and reflect on your day with God. Here are the simple four steps to praying the Examen:
- Recall – Think through key events and emotions of your day, and ask God to reveal His presence and activity.
- Rejoice – Gratefully recall moments of joy in your day. Thank God for His presence and for any blessings that come to mind.
- Repent – Wherever you see words, thoughts, desires, actions or attitudes in your life that don’t look like Jesus, confess, receive His grace, and ask for His Spirit to empower you.
- Renew – With hope, consider tomorrow. Ask God for wisdom, strength, and boldness to walk in the way of Jesus.