Rediscovering John Wesley's Prayers of Examen: Prayers for Resignation and Meekness


I expect at first glance, the idea of "resignation" did not come across as a term you were used to in your spiritual practice.  It doesn't mean resigning from being a follower of Jesus or from your church or staff position.  In Wesley's day it was used to describe "a submissive, unresisting attitude" which it still retains.  Along with meekness, a characteristic Jesus claims for himself (Mt. 11:29) that hints at a humble confidence (see TDNT), the Christian is reminded this day to live life under the guidance and direction of God alone.  It is quite a challenge to live with the view of accepting all that comes our way in the course of a day as being both good and from God.  It would be good to hear the words of the desert father, Abba Poeman, who said, "To throw yourself before God, not to measure your progress, to leave behind all self-will; these are the instruments for the work of the soul (pg 172, Ward)."


Thursday: Resignation and Meekness

MORNING
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?

Prayer
…I humbly ask you, teach me to love all your ways, though I cannot understand them.  Teach me to be glad that you are King and to give thanks for all things which happen to me; seeing you have chosen these for me and so you have ‘set your seal that they are good…”

Lord Jesus, I give you my body, my soul, my substance, my fame, my friends, my freedom and my life.  Use me and all that is mine as it seems best to you.  I am not my own but yours.  Claim me as your own, keep me as your servant, and love me as your child!  Fight for me when I am attacked, heal me when I am wounded and bring me to life when I am destroyed!

Be merciful to all who are distressed, who struggle with pain, poverty, or rejection. Guide all those who travel by land or by water.  Give a strong and quiet spirit to those who are condemned to death, freedom to prisoners and captives, and comfort and joy to every sad heart.  Give spiritual strength and comfort to those who are consumed with worry and to those who are afflicted by evil spirits.  Care for those who are mentally ill and give life and salvation to all those who seem to have no understanding.  Give the light of your truth to everyone who is in error and to all heretics, give them humility and grace to seek forgiveness from your Church by publicly confessing their faith in you.  

Bless all my friends, family, acquaintances and enemies.  Unite us all to one another through mutual love and be united to you by living holy lives always.  Together, with all those who have gone before us in your faith and fear, may we find merciful acceptance in the last day.  By the gift of you blessed Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit be all glory, world without end!




EVENING

Particular Questions relating to Resignation and Meekness
1.  Have I spent my time living out what God desires and that only?
2.  Have I accepted, with thanks, everything that has happened to me that I didn’t choose, as the choice of infinite wisdom and goodness?
3.  Have I (after doing what God requires of me) left all future things completely to God’s plans?  In other words, have I worked on being completely indifferent to whatever way God may direct my life?
4.  Have I taken back my commitment to God of my body, soul, friends, fame, and fortune after God had accepted these things?  Have I also taken back any gift I may have given to God?
5.  Have I worked to be cheerful, mild and courteous in whatever task I did?
6.  Have I said anything with a stern look, tone or gesture, especially when the subject of religion came up in conversation?

Prayer
…To you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, my Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, I give myself up entirely.  May I no longer serve myself but serve you, all the days of my life…
I give you my understanding…
I give you my will…
I give you my affections…
I give you my body…
I give you all my worldly possessions…
I give you my achievements and reputation…
I give you myself and my all…



Ken's Note:
If you are just now coming into this series of blog posts, I have taken these daily prayers and questions of personal examination of the Rev. John Wesley and sought to do a dynamic translation of  some of the more archaic English phrases used in the 18th century, 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 Christians to be both Biblical and applicable to your own spiritual life and practice.


Works Referenced
Bromiley, Geoffrey.  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament in One Volume.  Grand Rapids.  Eerdmans. 1985.
Ward, Benedicta.  The Sayings of the Desert Fathers.  Trappist, KY.  Cistercian Publications. 1975.


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