Examining Spiritual Practices Through a Wesleyan-Methodist Lens Part 3

This third installment on examining spiritual practices focuses on the third and fourth questions which Dr. Kenneth Collins offers as a means to examine spiritual practice through a Wesleyan-Methodist lens.  I chose to use The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius because I had no bias towards him.  I had never read his works prior to this point.   My previous two posts are found here and here.  For some of you, this whole line of questioning makes no sense.  "Who cares?," may be one of your thoughts.  "What does it matter?," may be another.  I tried to address this in a previous post found here.  I think at the heart of it, these questions are not limited to being just a Wesleyan-Methodist lens, they reflect a Christian lens beneficial for any believer.

Next up is Collin’s third question, “Are these trends soundly rooted in the atonement?” This question plagued Wesley’s relationship with William Law, a mentor and one whom Wesley considered a mystic. The central argument for Wesley was Law’s understanding of justification - saving faith. In reference to Law’s recommendation of the mystical classic, Theologia Germanica, Wesley wrote, “I remember something of Christ our pattern, but nothing express of Christ our atonement (Wesley 1996, Vol 3, 301).” To read Wesley’s writings, one would hardly miss the importance he placed on Christ’s atonement for sin.

A similar view of the atonement is found in Ignatius’ theology as expressed in the Exercises. As outlined in his four week program, Ignatius moved the excertiants from the first week of reflecting upon God’s love, God’s creation, and our sinfulness, to the second week, where the focus is on following Jesus Christ as a disciple. Then, in the third week, a person’s focus becomes the week of Christ’s passion, the Last Supper and Jesus’
death and the Eucharist being the fullest symbol of God’s love and grace. This third week begins with three preludes, the third of which expresses, “…the Lord is going to His passion on account of my sins (The Spiritual Exercises 1964, 91, emphasis mine).” Further reading reveals that our prayers should focus particularly on Christ’s atonement. Ignatius writes, “In the Passion the proper thing to ask for is grief with Christ suffering, a broken heart with Christ heartbroken, tears, and deep suffering because of the great suffering that Christ endured for me (Ibid, 93, emphasis mine). This consistency in reflecting upon Christ’s atonement places Ignatius’ Exercises alongside Wesley’s own theological beliefs.

There remains then, a fourth question presented by Dr. Collins, namely in regards to the means of grace. Is there a judicious employment of the means of grace in the spirituality presented? Specifically, Dr. Collins refers to, “…prayer, receiving the Lord’s Supper, and reading the Bible… (1993, 314).” To these means of grace, we can add a few more as outlined by Wesley and the United Methodist Church. These additions would include the practice of fasting, journaling, singing, small group meetings: classes and bands, public preaching, love feasts and family devotions (Coppedge 1993).

As noted at the beginning of this paper and it is echoed in the beginning of The Spiritual Exercises, spiritual direction is part of the faith experience. That there should be a “master of the Exercises,” is similar to John Wesley’s instructions to preachers not to preach if there can be no follow-up in a class meeting or band (The Spiritual Exercises 39 and Jones 2002, 79).

Prayer is found to be a consistent, daily practice throughout the Exercises. Not only is praying the Lord’s Prayer expressly stated, there is guided prayer throughout as well as encouragement to pray as one is led to do so. Prayers for forgiveness of sins and prayers to be made aware of our shortcomings become part of the rituals of each session. Ignatius appears to agree with John Wesley’s own practices when he encourages those using the Exercises to set aside an hour for prayer (Ibid, 49).

The book itself contains the scripture passages which Ignatius instructed exerciants to use for their meditations. Questions for reflection are given for those passages so one might pry more deeply into the text. These Scripture passages outline the life of Jesus Christ for the exerciant in 30 days, to study and contemplate, the full Christology (as we have previously noted).

Ignatius encouraged, “…Holy Communion every two weeks, or better, if he is so inclined, every week (Ibid, 42).” While this may seem excessive to us as protestants, it certainly was not to John Wesley. His sermon on “The Duty of Constant Communion,” states the Christian ought to participate in the Lord’s Supper, “…every time he can; like the first Christians, with whom the Christian Sacrifice was a constant part of the Lord’s day service. And for several centuries they received it almost every day: Four times a week always, and every Saint’s day beside (Wesley 1996, Vol. 7, 148).” I suppose it could be argued Ignatius does not go far enough, at least in comparison to Wesley. Still, the importance of the Eucharist for Ignatius is demonstrated not only in this teaching but the focus in week three on the Eucharist as well.

All Methodist Clergy are asked if we practice fasting and if we teach it. For Ignatius, fasting is an integral part of the Exercises especially in week one, where it serves as part of the reflections and practice of penance. Some of today’s modern mystic writers such as Jane Vennard make an important point to “…keep the purpose of your fast before you. (Vennard 1998, 21).” Even though within the Spiritual Exercises fasting is a penitential experience it is not to punish the body but is still in line with Vennard’s words, “to create space in your life to attend to God (Ibid, 22).” Ignatius himself writes one does not need to “…harm ourselves or cause ourselves serious illness (The Spiritual Exercises, 62).”

Another current mystic writer, Marjorie Thompson, author of Soul Feast, observes, “We trivialize spiritual disciplines when we lose sight of their real purpose (2005, 78).” However, if we do not examine a discipline or spiritual practice, it may not be trivialization that becomes the problem. Instead the problem will be our allowing of "infection" into the church, either through confusion regarding means of grace or possibly practice not in line with Christianity. This is what seems to concern Wesley. Dr. Collin’s questions give us guidance in this examination especially in light of John Wesley’s over-simplification of mystics as “all and only those who slight any of the means of grace (Collins 1993, 305).” I feel confident, that a spiritual director in the Wesleyan-Methodist tradition could use Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises as part of a program of spiritual formation and be able to do so knowing the exercises would be both beneficial and in line with our own Methodist criteria of practice.

The next installment will likely be out next week after Easter weekend.

Examining Spiritual Practices Through a Wesleyan-Methodist Lens Part 2

Today's post is the continuation of yesterday's post found here.  Today, I focus on the first two questions that Dr. Ken Collins proposes: "Is the practice Christologically based?" and "Does the practice detract from Jesus as mediator?"  If you have never read any of John Wesley's writings you may not appreciate the time he took read, examine, write and publish responses to books, preaching and tracts in his day.  Wesley did not take spiritual practices lightly, in fact, he was very careful about what he endorsed to the people called Methodists, should it be any less important to us today? 

The questions Dr. Collins raises in part, address the concerns he terms “...the health of contemporary developments in religion...(Collins 1993, 314).” Dr. Robert Tuttle affirms in his own chapter the need to examine spiritual practices in our day. It is hard to miss the nod to Wesley’s own questioning of not just mystical writings but any and all theological or spiritual practices in his own day. Collins begins by asking, “...are current trends in spirituality Christologically based?” This is the first question with which we will examine Ignatius’ writings in The Spiritual Exercises.

For the sake of this paper, a simple understanding of Christology should suffice. Christology is the study of the nature and person of Jesus found in the Canonical Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament. In the first week of the Exercises, there is much time for reflection upon God’s position of authority as well as his grace. At the same time, there is an opportunity for the Christian to reflect upon one's place in this world and our fallen state. “Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means save his soul (The Spiritual Exercises 1964, 47),” writes Ignatius. These words seem to echo the Westminster Shorter Chatechism when it is asked, “What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever (www.shorterchatechism.com, 2012).” The beginning of the Exercises, positions us at the Creation - the first exercise asks the exercitants to “consider the sin of Adam and Eve (The Spiritual Exercises 1964, 55).” Yet, this is not where the exercise ends.

Ignatius has the excertiant focus upon Christ Jesus in this first exercise as well. In a most significant moment of reflection, the excertiant is asked to speak with Jesus about his role as the Christ. Specifically, one is to consider how God became human, possessed eternal life but suffered temporal death for our sins (Ibid, 56). As we move into the Second Week, “The Kingdom of Christ,” we find Ignatius leading excertiants to reflect on the Trinity and God’s plan and work of redeeming humanity (Ibid, 70). In addition, Ignatius makes a specific reference in the Fifth Contemplation, no. 4, which is a desire, “to know more thoroughly the eternal Word Incarnate (Ibid 72).” In such passages, it is hard to miss the careful acknowledgment of Jesus as both God and human as well as the trinitarian language of the orthodox faith.

There is a wealth of scripture references for the recommended meditations which Ignatius asks of excertiants. These passages all have to do with the life of Jesus. From the annunciation to the ascension, the focus of a person’s time in Scripture is to be upon the life of Jesus. As Methodists, this brings to mind our practice of doing theology based on the quadrilateral. The first and primary means of any of our theological work, begins with Scripture and Scripture is the most important of the elements among the four which include tradition, reason, and experience.

The second question which Collins proposes in his paper is to examine if the practice or trend encourages a “direct relation to God which detracts from the work of Christ as mediator?” A cursory reading of John Wesley’s writings and experiences shows this to be an area of great concern for him. Here, Tuttle notes the distinction being that on one side is the idea that implies, 'God helps those who help themselves.' Christianity insists that God helps those who cannot help themselves but who are willing to be helped by God (1989, 176).” This earlier thought Tuttle argues, is a sort pantheism, that God is all things. As such, the need for a mediator between us and God is not necessary. This is certainly in conflict with the Christology we noted before but it is also inconsistent with a theology of Christ as the mediator; our high priest as expressed in Hebrews,

(17) Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (18) For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (2:17-18 NASB)

How does Ignatius’ Exercises respond to this questioning? To start, we return to the first weeks exercise and acknowledge the theme Ignatius establishes in stating, “…He [Jesus] submitted to temporal death to die for our sins (The Spiritual Exercises, 56, emphasis mine).” Ignatius continues this recognition of our sin and Christ Jesus as our mediator into the third exercise where he asks, “Him [Jesus] to intercede with the Father to obtain these graces [knowledge of our sinful state] for me (Ibid, 58).” While not as extensive as some may prefer, clearly, Ignatius acknowledges the work of Jesus Christ as the mediator.

Stay tuned for my next post regarding Examining Spiritual Practices Through a Wesleyan-Methodist Lens for an examination of the next two questions: "Is the practice rooted in the atonement? and Is it rooted in the means of grace? (ex: prayer, communion, Bible reading). "

Examining Spiritual Practices Through a Wesleyan-Methodist Lens Part 1

Back in January I raised the point that United Methodists are faced with what I termed "an inconvenient truth."  Our Book of Discipline outlines the primary sources for our work as the church.  Some of us, namely ordained clergy, are in covenant together regarding our work of ministry.  When we begin to discuss what is taught in our UM Churches, these sources are intended to be our guides for faithful covenant and practice.  

This blog and those that follow in the coming weeks come from research work as I pursue Certification in Spiritual Formation in the United Methodist Church.  Of particular interest for me has been how we, as United Methodists, are handling and examining the wealth of spiritual practices which have been and are being introduced into our churches.  Some of the questions I have mulled over included, Are we being diligent about what we teach and what we allow to be taught?  Are there practices from other denominations which fit within our tradition?  Are there some that do not?  Is there a process we might use to be more discerning?  In the coming blog posts (taken from a recent paper.  The bibliography will be posted at the end of the posts), I try to answer these questions by examining St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises through a Wesleyan-Methodist lens.

In our current day the religious landscape, especially as it relates to the Christian Church in a general way, is shifting. One such shift is noted in John Mabry’s recent article on “Generational Ministry” in Presence Magazine. In the generation known as Millenials (birth years 1981-2001), “…72 percent identify as ‘spiritual but not religious' (Mabry 2012, 21).” For this generation, God has become more an “absentee landlord” than Lord of the universe. This is not the only aspect of change. The growing interest in spiritual practices and the influence of the Christian mystics on our church life is of significant interest.

To be Methodist in this time of shift ought to give us pause for if we are one who relates himself or herself to the theological thought, practice of holiness, and social service taught by John Wesley, we have a responsibility to examine and reflect upon what comes into our lives and into the church. However, we do not do this work in a vacuum or on our own accord. It is by our theological guidelines where we find our sources and criteria to study and judge and apply to our lives those truths which are acceptable to what is often referred to as the Quadrilateral: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.

It should be of considerable interest for a Methodist Christian, clergy or laity, to examine practices which are proposed to be introduced into the life of our people. Our Book of Discipline deems it necessary to do so. We are to consider John Wesley’s Standard Sermons and Explanatory Notes on the New Testament. Where the Rev. John Wesley spoke to an issue in these works, they hold a particular authority. Even if they are found in the larger collection of his works, Wesley’s words have much to offer.

On the topic of mysticism, Wesley, in fact has much to say though his thoughts and opinions do vary. As such, Wesley’s writings are also not comprehensive in nature. There are mystics about whom Wesley had strong opinions, but of others, he speaks not at all. Such is the case with The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Written between the years of 1522 and 1524, the Exercises layout a plan of meditations, prayers, mental exercises and spiritual practices to be carried out over the course of about 30 days time. It should also be noted these exercises, like the means of grace in Methodism, are not undertaken in a vacuum. The Spiritual Exercises are intended to be followed under the guidance of a spiritual director. W. Paul Jones, former United Methodist clergy, now trappist monk, draws the comparison between Catholicism and Methodism stating the, “…characteristic of an order, every member was supposed to be under spiritual direction (Jones 2002, 79).”

While there are some writings on John Wesley and his experience and examination of mysticism, this work has not been exhausted. In his paper, “John Wesley’s Assessment of Christian Mysticism,” Dr. Kenneth J. Collins offers four questions of help to examine spiritual practices in light of Wesley’s own opinions regarding the mystics:

1. Is it Christologically based?

2. Does it detract from Jesus as mediator?

3. Is the practice rooted in the atonement?

4. Is it rooted in the means of grace? (ex: prayer, communion, Bible reading).

It seems to me, these represent a fair test of any spiritual practices which might be part of a Wesleyan-Methodist experience of grace. While there are practices of Ignatius which would be considered inappropriate and unacceptable today (such as chastising the flesh with hair shirts, chains and scouraging (The Spiritual Exercises 1964, 62)), there is much here to help the Christian seeking to pattern their life after Jesus Christ.

In Ignatius’ work, we find parallel practices outlined by John Wesley in the Methodist Movement. We need to identify those parallels and take time to understand this commonality. With the growing population of less churched and more spiritual, the practices reaching new generations (and old ones for that matter) can be used to help others on their spiritual journey. Methodists have long held the center in being a bridge between traditions in the Christianity.

The more one spends time with Ignatius’ works and looking at his life, it is not so surprising Richard Foster would place both Ignatius and John Wesley in the stream of the Holiness Traditions (Foster 1998, 60). Both were instrumental in leading movements, Ignatius in the Roman Catholic counter-Reformation (16th Century) and Wesley leading the Holiness/Methodist Movement (18th century). They also shared a significant connection to the writing of Thomas a Kempis, namely, The Imitation of Christ. While not always classified as a mystical work, Imitation was instrumental in shaping Wesley’s understanding of Christian perfection (Tuttle 1989, 62). For Ignatius, Imitation was one of the three books from which he drew much inspiration. He referred to it as the devotional book he liked the most and was first given him during his stay in Manresa from March 1522 to February 1523 (The Spiritual Exercises 1964,13 and 15).

While he does not speak to it directly, John Wesley was very much attracted to the life and work of Ignatius. We know Wesley read about the life of Ignatius on August 16, 1742. In addition, Wesley was accused on more than one occasion of being a “son of Loyola” (Tuttle 1989, 31). Paul W. Jones, notes how Ignatius was one of the monastics Wesley drew upon for inspiration (2002, 77). In his spiritual journey, Wesley made breaks with many of the mystics and spoke harshly at times of their shortcomings. However, in regards to Ignatius and the Exercises, we find no such comments. While this does not mean Ignatius’ works fall under those practices which might be approved for use by Methodist Christians, it does, I think, allow us the opportunity to move forward in examining Ignatius’ work in light of Collins’ questions regarding mystic theology and practice for Methodists.

Stay tuned for my next post regarding Examining Spiritual Practices Through a Wesleyan-Methodist Lens.

Lectio Visual for Wednesday

Before scrolling farther down, let me invite you to take time to just "soak" in the image.  Then begin considering each of the five parts of Lectio Visual.

Take time and move through each step.  Note the questions in the following paragraph for suggestions as you practice Lectio Visual.

            Look (Read):  Consider deeply the image and what is being “said.”
            Linger (Reflect):  What is the verse or word being given to you?
            Led (Respond): How are you being called to respond?
            Lay (Rest): Be in God's presence.
            Live (Return): Moving back into the world with how we've been changed.

As you look at this image, what words come to your mind?  Look at the people,their body language.  Note the colors chosen.  What speaks to you about the location?    Specifically, what Scripture passage or phrase does the Holy Spirit inspire them to speak to you?   You may think of a recent news article or a quote by a famous person.  So it maybe from another word or phrase that you are  inspired you to look up a Scripture.  If you need help, you might try going to www.biblegateway.com to do a search through the Bible.  In this case, the upcoming Sunday is Palm Sunday so you may want to spend time with Luke 19:28-40

Remember that there are those images, icons or symbols that appeal to us.  We are  now an incredibly visual society and images are important.  Christianity has been using images since the earliest days of the church.  BUT, we need to realize that there are also images that don’t attract us or inspire us with joy or peace that are just as likely to be used by God. 

Whatever that verse or word or phrase, take that as a guide for your prayer through this day.  Read or say that verse or phrase out loud if you have time or space to do so.  If not, silently reflect and pray.  If it is a full story, consider using more of Lectio Divina which I talk about elsewhere on my blog.  

Image: Entry of Christ into Jerusalem . Morgner, Wilhelm, 1891-1917

A Collection of Spiritual Learning and Growth Opportunities

Debra Dickerson has posted on her blog a collection of resources for Spiritual Growth and Learning.  A fellow member of Hearts on Fire (Fellowship of United Methodist Spiritual Directors and Retreat Leaders), Debra has provided a number of excellent links to sites, retreat centers, programs and online opportunities for spiritual growth.

Navigating the numerous sites available on the internet related to spiritual formation is both daunting and confusing. I've not even mentioned the numerous practices and teachings often couched in language that makes them sound in line with the creeds and practices of Christianity.  As we journey along the way to becoming more Christ-like, Debra has provided a wealth of excellent helps on that way.

Be sure to read more of Debra's blog: The Journey Is An Adventure; I am an Alien.

Praying and Living in the Direction of Forgiveness

“Our lives are meant to be characterized by grace and forgiveness.” – Adam Hamilton (1)

Used with permission
For the past few weeks I’ve been leading a study on Forgiveness, a book study by Adam Hamilton.  It is both a timely release and one that is well written.  As I have come to expect with Adam’s work it is well researched, keenly observant, and full of both wit and wisdom.  While I am leading the study, I can tell you it really provides an opportunity for the leader to be a participant throughout the sessions.

Forgiveness (not the book but the action) is not a nifty little catch phrase.  It isn’t something that you or I get to put a label on or say it is for someone else to do.  I have to applaud Abingdon for stepping up on this one not because it would be a sure fire, best seller but for the opposite reason: it is so NOT a topic given to flashy appeal.  We know darn well to talk about forgiveness means pulling off band-aids and scabs.  Forgiveness is about doing surgery, of facing hate, pain, and murder (or did we forget that Jesus was pretty clear about how our imaginations contribute to our sins).

What is, in fact, lacking in this study on forgiveness is, I think, an understanding of just how to actually pray in the direction of forgiveness.  It is a common thing we pastors do, and many have fallen into line behind us.  We simply tell people, “Pray about it.”  Huh? 

Now, I will say, Hamilton does a better job than most but if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times over and “pray about it,” in my opinion is a cheap answer (and I admit, I’ve done the same).   Like all of us, I have experienced that hate and pain in my own life towards those who have hurt me and my family. 

In coming to grips with the practical; with the reality that I didn’t have it in me to forgive, I began to pray.  It was a prayer I found in one of the most important books I’ve read in recent years, The Spirituality of Imperfection.  The prayer goes something like this:  “God, please give [insert person’s name] what he/she deserves!”  Don’t try to suggest to God you’ve got the better idea about what that person ‘deserves.’  Don’t worry about praying it angry either, it is okay, just start praying it.  Over time, it begins to work, not just for the person you pray for but it works on you. (2)

We so want something from others we will likely never get and that is agreement.  But Jesus doesn’t call us to agreement.  Jesus doesn’t call us to become clones.  I can’t find it.  Jesus doesn’t call us to ridicule others or ostracize anyone.  Yet we do it all too quickly, all too often, and all through our day.  What I can find is Jesus refusing to give us a way out from forgiving, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy time seven.” (Matthew 18:22)  If we don't get this, we really don't get the direction Jesus was going at all.

(1) Hamilton, Adam.  Forgiveness. Nashville, TN: Abingdon. 2012.
(2) Kurtz, Ernest and Katherine Ketchum.  The Spirituality of Imperfection. Bantam Books. 1992.

Are You Living By Toddler's Rules on the Glory Road?

If you’ve spent anytime at all around toddlers then you are aware of their own set of rules.  I’m sure if toddlers everywhere could have prevented it, they would have tried to stop the publication of those rules.  Thankfully, because of the internet, these rules were brought to everyone’s attention. 

If it's mine it's mine,
if it's yours it's mine,
if I like it is mine,
if I can take it from you it is mine,
if I am playing with something ALL of the pieces are mine,
if I think it is mine it is,
if I saw it first it's mine,
if I had it then put it down it is still mine,
if you had it then you put it down it is now mine,
if it looks like the one I have at home it is mine,
if it is broken it is yours.

Humorous though they maybe and true for toddlers, likely world wide, the rules are not limited to toddlers alone.  Developmental theorists have observed that this stage of developmental can be a place where some people get stuck.  In other words, a portion of people in our population arrive at this point morally, and never leave it.  Their behavior may not show itself in a 30 year old taking Transformers from a 8 year old but it is there in much more subtle ways.  Take a moment, check yourself on this one - when have you wanted what someone else had?

Now take a look at  this passage from John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

The contrast between Judas and Mary couldn’t be more telling regarding the journey of the glory road, that path which leads to fullness of life in Jesus Christ.  John takes Judas to task.  Everything about Judas is called in to question and especially as it relates to his character and his motives.  Clearly, being “religious” is not at all the same as being faithful to Jesus.  Being a disciple, an apostle, does not alleviate a person from the temptation and living out of our selfishness - of refusing to grow up into Christ.

Professor Gary Burge, in examining Judas’ behavior notes, “...care of the poor cannot come before undiluted worship of Christ (12:8); and when the care springs from an impure heart (v.6) its spiritual value evaporates.”  Jesus’ words on the matter are clear and pointed at the true, heart of the matter - when it comes to the spiritual life, motivations matter.

Grow up, Jesus seems to say.  Paul put it more succinctly when he wrote to the Corinthian church: “When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways. (1Cor 13:11 CEV)”  It is so easy to look at what Judas did, not examine it and say, “Hey, look Judas is being a good steward!  He is right you know, if we took the perfume, I mean, look, we could pay for a new program at the church, we could support a missionary.” And that would be correct BUT...We would miss the soul work that Jesus’ presence in a life is doing.  Mary’s extravagant gift, is not wasteful Jesus implies, not when Jesus is present in our midst, not when we are living in humility.  If we are trying to understand God by reason alone, then Judas is right, it makes no sense to do what Mary did.

Where does Jesus call us to live life under the direction of toddler’s rules?  Where in the gospel, in the New Testament or the Old Testament, are we called to bring less than our very best to God?  Paul says worship should be orderly but does he say restrain your passion?  Surely we have no problem restraining our love for our sports teams. 

Mary is pointed out as one who grew up.  Maybe, because she did not travel with Jesus, she came to appreciate so much more his presence when he came through Bethany.  She could have said to Jesus, “Mine!  Don’t go to Jerusalem!  Don’t go to the cross!”  She could have, but she did not.  She didn’t try to keep Jesus for herself, but for our sake, she gave extravagantly so others could know Jesus, so that you and I could know Jesus.  So what is it that you are holding on to in your life?  What are you convinced about that is your’s?  Are you so full up with stuff you can’t fit Jesus in your life?  Are you clinging so tightly to Jesus, you are fearful of sharing him with others?

Are you living like Judas or like Mary?  In Judas’ heart, a broken Jesus wouldn’t be of any good.  But Mary knew a broken Jesus would be good news for the whole world.   

Trapped In Pigpens on the Glory Road

Take a moment to read Luke 15:11-32.

God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.” I shared this quote a few weeks ago from Meister Eckhart, a 13th Century spiritual director and if there is a story which epitomizes this quote, it would have to be this parable of the prodigals. In their own way, each of these people: the younger son, the older son and the father, all behave in very inconsistent ways.

Phrases that are popular in both psychology and spirituality today include the idea of the True Self/False Self. If you read the writings of the Apostle Paul however, you’ll quickly discover the same idea, but oh, about 2,000 years old. For Paul, our two selves are described as our “life according to the flesh”, the false self and our “life according to the Spirit”, the true self.

This difference in the false and true self may best be described in Paul’s letter to the Galatian church when he writes:

Galatians 5:19-23 NASB Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

In the younger son, the one who demands his inheritance, takes off to see the world and party “gangam style,” the false self is all to clearly evident. This false self shows clearly in his “immorality, impurity, sensuality, drunkenness and carousing.” The false self takes him far from home to where he comes to trapped in a pigpen.

But now look at verse 17: “Finally, he came to his senses.” The word here for “senses” really is better translated as “himself.” So finally, he came to “himself” = he came to his true self. And when he does this, he leaves the slop of the pigpen and he heads off for home.

His arrival at home however reveals something in his older brother doesn’t it? We get to become a “fly on the wall” for this conversation between the older brother and the father. Surely, this brother is justified right? I mean, after all, he didn’t do any of the stuff the younger brother did? Maybe not but look at what comes to light in this conversation: “...strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying.”

The older brother may never have left home, but clearly he was as lost and stuck in the pigpen of the false self, the flesh as his little brother. Author and Friar, Albert Hause rightly discerns, I think, the older brother’s false self in this way, “his faithful workaholism had gotten him nowhere (52).” He had become just as much a prodigal, having walked faraway from home even in the very presence of the father.

Here are two of the prodigals, but I think there remains a third. The third one, in the spirit of Obi Wan Kenobi, “...remains safely anonymous,” but we call him out today as the father. So often overlooked because we naturally connect the father of the two sons to God the Father Almighty, the father exists as the third prodigal. Not because he wandered off or developed a grudge. No, it is because of this radical, prodigal mercy which the father displays to both sons. One experienced it his whole life and still was lost and the younger, unsure of this mercy, found it dumped upon him like fire hydrant opened up full blast. The father displays all the characteristics of the true self, of being fully in the Spirit as we see him show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Home for us on life’s journey takes us to this very place. Our false self, our life lived in the flesh, traps us in the mud and slop and isolation of pigpens. Others may even perpetuate it. Yet, there is a home where the outrageous mercy of God is on display for every prodigal by a prodigal God! And the mercy we get from God becomes mercy we can offer to others.

What will that look like? I don’t know. Maybe it will be in a hug and a party for one who has wasted part of their lives or providing a listening ear to one has grown bitter. Maybe it will be finding a task at the great day of service.

Or it maybe you recognize your false self in all this. Maybe you are hearing it is time to come home from your walk. Maybe today is the day you are ready to say yes to God and you give your life over to Jesus and begin to live as your true self, in Christ Jesus.

Works Cited and Referenced

Haase, Albert O.F.M. Coming Home To Your True Self. Downers Grove, IL. Intervarsity Press. 2008.

Mulholland, Bob. The Deeper Journey. Downers Grove, IL. Intervarsity Press. 2006. (Special thanks to Bob for really unpacking the scriptural basis for the true & false self at Academy #34 week 3 in Alabama).

More on Donald Winnicott and the origins of “True Self/False Self" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Winnicott and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_self_and_false_self).

Rediscovering John Wesley's Prayers of Examen: Prayers for the Love of God

Today is the last day in the series of prayers from Wesley.  In the original prayers, they began on Sunday rather than ending here.  I am not sure just why I chose to change them up and begin on Monday but something about coming to the end on Sunday seemed to me right.  I would certainly love to hear feedback from this week if you practiced these prayers.  I know for me, taking the time to write these down and thus pray through them, considering every word, was humbling.  More than that, it did change me, it made me consider, in depth, my choices through the day.  It made me consider whether I was just praying prayers because I should or was I praying in such a way that I would come to be Christ lived out in my little spot of the world?  For sure, I did come to discover a depth to my tradition and the spirituality of John Wesley.  Grace to you on the last day of this journey.

Sunday: Love of God


with permission by Rassing
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, I, your unworthy servant, desire to give myself to you with complete humility. This morning I come before you to offer my sacrifice of love and thanksgiving. Glory be to you, most adorable Father. After you had finished working upon creation, you set aside your time to rest.

Glory be to you, O holy Jesus who through the eternal Spirit, offered yourself as a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. You rose again from the dead on the third day and received all power both in heaven and on earth.

Glory be to you, O blessed Spirit, who came from the Father and the Son. You came in tongues of fire on the apostles on the first day of the week and enabled them to preach the glad tidings of salvation to a sinful world. Ever since, you have been moving on the faces of the souls of humanity just as you did once on the great deep, bringing them out of that dark chaos where they were involved.

Glory be to you, holy, undivided Trinity for working together in the great work of our redemption and restoring us again to glorious freedom as the children of God! Let you Holy Spirit, who descended with miraculous gifts on your Apostles on the first day of the week, descend on me, your unworthy servant so I may always be ‘in the spirit on the Lord’s day’…

Let me join the prayers and praises of your church with fierce and heavenly passion, hear your word with serious attention and a focused determination to obey it. And when I approach your altar, pour into my heart, humility, faith, hope, love, and those holy characteristics which reflect the sacred remembrance of a crucified Savior…

O merciful God, whatever you deny me, do not deny me your love…Let me never love another, but for your sake, and in submission to your love. Take full possession of my heart; build your throne there, and take control in my heart as you do in heaven…

Let the prayers and sacrifices of your holy Church, offered to you on this day, be graciously accepted.


with permission by geri-jean
General questions which a serious Christian may ask themselves before beginning evening devotions.

1. How much focus and passion did I put into my morning prayers both public and private?
2. Have I done anything without a current, or at least a previous thought about its immediate or remote possibility of giving glory to God?
3. This morning, did I consider what particular good I was going to do, what business I had to do in the day?
4. Have I been zealous to “get after it” and active in doing every good thing I could?
5. Have I been too focused on other people’s business more than love required?
6. Before I visited with someone or was visited by someone, consider how I might give or receive suggestions?
7. Have I spoke about anyone’s failings or faults when it was not necessary for their good?
8. Did I unnecessarily grieve anyone because of words I spoke or deeds I did?
9. Before or in every action, did I consider how it might be something that would make the day better?

Particular Questions relative to the Love of God
1. Did I set aside part of this day to think about God’s perfections and mercies?
2. Have I worked to make this day a day of heavenly rest, set aside for divine love?
3. Have I used the moments of it in doing good and showing mercy that were not already being used for prayer, reading and meditation?

My Father, my God…I celebrate you…for washing me through your baptism, and teaching me your way of truth and holiness…for allowing me and all my Christian brothers and sisters, to worship you in times of public worship. I celebrate that you so often feed my soul with the gifts of your most precious body and blood. They are promises of your love and they give me strength and comfort. Be gracious to all of us whom you, this day (or at any time) allowed to come to your holy table.

My Father, my God, save me, I call on you from all sinful actions; I know how these can be huge barriers to being able to know you and love you…Save me, O God, from an obsession of workaholism even in the little things…teach me to be about all my work and chores with a true detachment in my heart so I may be able to see you in all things…and that I may never stop that freedom of spirit which is necessary to be able to love you.

Deliver me, God, from a lazy mind, from all lukewarmness and all lowness in my spirit…Deliver me, O God, from all love that might be idolatrous towards another…

Above all, deliver me, my God, from all idolatrous love of my self…

By loving you, O my God, may my soul be fixed against its natural inconsistency…May your holy flame ever warm my heart that I may serve you with all my might; and make it consume all the selfish desires in my heart. In this way and in all things, I might no longer focus on me but you.

My God, let your glorious name be rightly honored and loved by all the creatures which you have made. Let you infinite goodness and greatness always be worshipped by all angels, women and men. May your church, the universal seedbed of divine love, be protected from the powers of darkness. Give to everyone who calls themselves by your name, one short glimpse of your goodness…

Send out your blessed Spirit into the midst of these sinful nations and make us a holy people…

Change the hearts of my enemies, and give me grace to forgive them, just like you forgave us, for Christ’s sake. Shepherd of Israel, give me this night and every night, your protection; accept my poor actions and forgive how sinful the actions were as well as my holy duties.

Rediscovering John Wesley's Prayers of Examen: Prayers for Thankfulness

 Saturday: Thankfulness


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.  Have I resolved to do all the good I can this day and to be diligent in the business of my calling?


God, great Creator and Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, you Father of angels and people, the Giver of life and Protector of all your creatures, I ask that you mercifully accept my morning offering of praise and thanks.  I desire this offering to be given with complete humility to your divine Majesty.  “You are praised O Lord by all your works,” and are magnified by everything you have created.  The sun rejoices at the opportunity to run his course that he may pronounce your praise, the one who made him.  The moon and the stars don’t hold back in showing you glory even in the midst of the silent night.  The earth breaths out perfumes to you each day, her sacred King.  You have crowned her with herbs and trees, and beautified her with hills and valleys.  The deep speaks his voice and lifts up hands to you the great Creator, the universal King, the everlasting God.  The floods clap their hands and the hills are joyful together before you.  The fruitful valleys rejoice and sing your praise.  You feed the innumberable multitude of animals which you have created…

You made light for our comfort and gave us darkness out of your treasures in order to overshadow the earth so that the living creatures in it might have their rest.  ‘The fire and hail, snow and mist, wind and storm do your word’ and show your glory.  Inanimate things celebrate you, O Lord of life and the wild animals demonstrate their wise Creator.  Throughout the universal praise of nature, do not wait for humanity to be silent but let the most noble works of your creation give you the most noble sacrifice of praise!


Particular Questions relating to Thankfulness
1. Have I set aside some time for thanking God for the blessings of this past week?
2.  Have I seriously and deliberately considered the circumstances surrounding those blessings so I would be more aware of them?
3.  Have I considered each of them as a responsibility to show greater love and to be more focused in living a holy life?


‘My tongue shall sing of your righteousness and tell about Your salvation from day to day?’  I will give thanks to you forever and ever.  I will praise you, my God, while I have my being.  I wish that I had the heart of the seraphim so I might burn with a love like they have.  Even though I am on the earth, I will praise you as best I can, King of Heaven.  Though I am a feeble and mortal creature, I will lift up my song with those that excel in strength.  I will join with the immortal hosts of angels and archangels, thrones, dominions, and powers while they praise and magnify your glorious name and sing with nonstop shouts of praise –
            Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts!
            Heaven and earth are full of His glory!
            Glory be to you, O Lord most high.
            Amen.  Hallelujah.

Rediscovering John Wesley's Prayers of Examen: Prayers for The Passion of God's Son

Photo by Backtrust
Friday: The Passion of God’s Son


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.  Have I resolved to do all the good I can this day and to be diligent in the business of my calling?

Jesus, poor and rejected, unknown and despised, have mercy on me.  Let me not be ashamed to follow you.

Jesus, hated, slandered, and persecuted, have mercy on me. Let me not be ashamed to follow in your path.

Jesus, betrayed and sold at a vile price, have mercy on me.  Make me content to be like my Lord.

Jesus, blasphemed, accused, and wrongfully condemned, have mercy on me.  Teach me to endure the inconsistencies of those who condemn.

Jesus, clothed with a garment of rejection and shame, have mercy on me.  Help me not seek after my own glory.

Jesus, insulted, mocked, and spit upon, have mercy on me.  Let me run the race set before me with patience.

Jesus, dragged to the pillar, whipped and covered in blood, have mercy on me.  Help me to not faint when the trial is most painful.

Jesus, crowned with thorns and shown sarcastic praise; O Jesus, burdened with all our sins, and the curses of the people; O Jesus, insulted, subjected to violence, beaten, overwhelmed with injuries, anguish, and humiliations; O Jesus, hanging on the cursed tree, bowing your head, giving up your spirit, have mercy on me!  Make my soul to be like your holy, humble, suffering Spirit.

O Jesus, the one who loved me so much that you have undergone an infinity of sufferings and humiliations, let me be completely ‘emptied of myself’, so that I may celebrate at the opportunity to take up my cross daily and follow you.

Strengthen me, too, to endure the pain and despise the shame.  If it is your will, help me stand firm even in my own death.


The same questions asked on Wednesday for Denying Self

1.  Have I done anything just because it was pleasing?
2.  Have I done what passion tempted me to do or did I do the opposite?
3.  Have I been on the receiving end of inconveniences which I could not avoid?  Did I accept these experiences as something God allowed?
4.  Have I tried to come up with excuses to avoid self-denial?
5.  Have I looked at a situation and thought it is too small a thing for me to worry about denying myself?
6.  Except in situations where God's glory is concerned, have humbled myself with others who have opposed my thoughts and plans?
7.  Have I taken time out of my day after I have experienced what I thought was suffering for Christ and my own sins?  With this time have I listened for God's judgement and thought how to change my behavior?

...Remember for whose sake it was that you came from the presence of the Father and were content to be born of the virgin Mary.  Remember for whom it was your human body was torn and whipped and crucified.  Wasn’t it all done for the sins of the whole world?  Shall I be so selfish and disrespectful to you and think you excluded me?  Can I think that you died for sinners of greater sins than mine and left me without a remedy for the sickness of my sin?  What had become of those who committed murder in Jerusalem?  What about the prostitutes?  No, and what became of your own disciple Peter who denied you three times with oaths and curses?...

Save me O God, like a piece of burned wood snatched out of the fire.  Accept me, my Savior, like a sheep who has gone off on it’s own way but who now returns to the great Shepherd and Bishop of my soul.

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

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?

…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!


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?

…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.

Rediscovering John Wesley's Prayers of Examen: Prayers for Denying Self

The term you'll find for today's prayers and examen questions, I have changed to Denying Self.  The term originally used was mortification.  Since this term is not a common term used in our language today and comes with misunderstandings, I thought it best to substitute.  For John Wesley, self denial was a spiritual practice where a Christian seeks to avoid excessive pleasure by denying those pleasures and accept difficulties as they come throughout the course of one’s day or life.  In this way, especially during the season of Lent, it is very appropriate to consider how we might deny ourselves.

Wednesday: Denying Self

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?

O Thou, who dwells in the light which no human being can approach, in whose presence there is no night, in the light of whose face is perpetual day: I your sinful servant, whom you have cared for this night and who will live today by your strength; I bless and glorify you for the protection of your almighty providence!  I pray humbly that this day and all my days may be completely devoted to your service.

…You did not seek to please yourself, yet for your ‘pleasure all things are and were created.’  Let some portion of Your Spirit fall on me, so I may ‘deny myself and follow you’...Help me abstain from pleasures which do not prepare me for taking pleasure in You…

Particular Question relating to Denying the Self

1.  Have I done anything just because it was pleasing?
2.  Have I done what passion tempted me to do or did I do the opposite?
3.  Have I been on the receiving end of inconveniences which I could not avoid?  Did I accept these experiences as something God allowed?
4.  Have I tried to come up with excuses to avoid self-denial?
5.  Have I looked at a situation and thought it is too small a thing for me to worry about denying myself?
6.  Except in situations where God's glory is concerned, have humbled myself with others who have opposed my thoughts and plans?
7.  Have I taken time out of my day after I have experienced what I thought was suffering for Christ and my own sins?  With this time have I listened for God's judgement and thought how to change my behavior?

You whose mercy is without measure, whose goodness is unspeakable, do not despise your servant as I prepare for sleep.  I plead for your forgiveness and a continued relationship with You...

Have mercy on all who are experiencing suffering; remember the poor and needy, the widow and the fatherless, the friendless and the oppressed; heal those who are sick and without hope.  Give them your holy and loving presence.  When you see it is best for them, accept them into the company of the saints who have already died and into your everlasting kingdom...

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, and sought to translate some of the more archaic English phrases of John Wesley 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.

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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