Rediscovering John Wesley's Prayers of Examen: Praying for Humility

 Today is the second day of prayers and questions from A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week as found in Volume 11 of “The Works of John Wesley.”  This 18th Century practiced put together by Rev. Wesley can be used throughout the year over the course of any week.  Tuesday's focus is on the practice of humility.  You might note that there is no "Amen" at the end of the prayer. Wesley did not include one so I didn't add one.

Tuesday: Humility


General questions for every morning:
1.  Did I think of God first and last?
2.  Have I examined myself how I behaved since last night’s retirement?
3.  Am I resolved to do all the good I can this day and to be diligent in the business of my calling?

…Grant that I may think of myself as I ought to think, that I may ‘know myself even as I am known’ …O Lord, save me from either desiring or seeking the honor that comes from the world.  Convince me that the words of praise ‘when smoother than oil,’ really ‘are very swords.’  That way, when these signs of pride, these snares of death do overtake me, help me not to take pleasure in them, but enable me to run to you, Lord, and take my struggles to my God.  Let all my bones cry out, ‘You are worthy to be praised; so shall I be safe from my enemies.’

Bless, O gracious Father, all the nations you have placed upon the earth, with the knowledge of You, the only true God; but especially bless your holy universal Church and fill it with truth and grace.  Where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, correct it; where it is right, confirm it; where it is divided and torn apart, heal the breaches, O Holy One of Israel.


Particular Questions relating to Humility
1.  Have I labored to keep all my thoughts, words and actions in-line with these principles: I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing?
2.  Have I set apart sometime today to think upon my failings, my mistakes, and my sins?
3.  Have I given credit to myself any of the good things God really did by my hand?
4.  Have I said or done anything so I might get praise from people in the world?
5.  Did I take pleasure in it?
6.  Have I built myself up, or someone else to their face, for any reason other than for God’s sake?  And even then, did I do it with fear and trembling?
7.  Have I despised any advice from someone else?
8.  Have I owned up and said, “I am in the wrong?”
9.  Have I received ridicule from others and been indifferent to it?  Have I responded with meekness and with joy because I was doing my duty?
10.  When what I was doing brought no glory to God, did I put aside trying to justify my actions?  Was I willing to be seen as wrong?
11.  When I have been despised by another, did I first pray to God so that I might not get discouraged OR get a big head? Secondly, did I pray that it might not be a label attached to the person who despised me? Thirdly, did I pray that the situation might be healed?
12.  Did I go about talking about this situation of being despised in a careless way?  Did I really expect any good to come from my harping on about it?

O Lord, I desire to offer my evening sacrifice to you – the sacrifice of a broken spirit…
Lamb of God, who, both by your example and teaching, instructs us to be meek and humble.  Give me grace throughout my whole life, in every thought and work, Lord, so I will imitate your meekness and humility…Give me a fear of applause, an apprehension for credit, in whatever form it may come and whoever might say it to me…

You are the giver of every good and perfect gift.  Whenever you desire to use my hand to accomplish a task, teach me to discern what I did and what work another accomplished.  Help me to give credit to You for the things which You have done.
Let me be as pure as crystal, so all the light You pour upon me might shine through; that I might never claim Your property as mine.

You who were despised and rejected by this world, when I am slighted by my friends, looked down upon by my bosses, overpowered or ridiculed by my equals, or treated with contempt by my inferiors, help me to cry out as the martyr Ignatius of Antioch did, “It is now that I begin to be a disciple of Christ.”

Ken's Note:
I have taken these daily prayers and questions of personal examination, and sought to translate some of the more archaic English phrases into language easier to understand.  Where available, I have removed the “thee” and “thou” to make it easier and still keep the intent.  My hope and prayer is you’ll find, as I have, these prayers and practices which John Wesley provided to the Christians of the 18th century, to be both Biblical and applicable to your own spiritual life and practice


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