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The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr 

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference. 
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.

Week 2 "To Accept the things I cannot change"

January 16-22--Each day pray The Welcoming Prayer

Description:  This prayer was first articulated as a practice by Mary Mrozowski in the 1980s while she was studying with priests and founding contemplative outreach.  The welcoming practice is a spiritual practice of welcoming the now, whatever it may be, so that our hearts might become more attentive and more able to accept whatever comes into our lives on this journey we are on with God.  

The Welcoming Prayer can be practiced anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  It is a simple practice applicable to a wide variety of life situations.  It simply means centering into one's emotional and prayer life and following three steps.  Practice this whenever you are moved to and see if it changes your daily habits of acceptance and trust in God.  Mrozowski once wrote, "I am where I need to be.  Everything around me includes and hides the sacred."  The sacred is everywhere, even in the experiences you don't understand or would rather not have.  See if you can find and accept God's presence in all things.  See how it changes your life.

How to practice:

1. Focus, Feel, Sink In:

Become aware of whatever is happening in your body and your soul. Sink in to truly allow and accept what you are feeling and experiencing, without judgment or attempting to change it. Notice deeply and with God.

 

2. Welcome and Name:

Whatever you find, welcome it in words spoken or unspoken, even if it’s something you find challenging. “Welcome, fear” or “Welcome, pain” or “Welcome, confusion” would all be fitting words of welcome. Fit it to whatever truth you are experiencing at the moment.

 

3. Let Go and Let God:

Once you have felt, welcomed, and named the experience you are having, begin to release it in whatever ways are possible. Release yourself physically and emotionally. It can also help to use words of release to ease yourself out of the prayerful experience. Some recommendations include “I let go of the desire for security, affection, control” and “I let go of the desire to change what I am experiencing.”

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Week 1 "God, grant me the SERENITY"

January 9-15--Each day pray The Examen

Description:  The Examen is a daily spiritual practice commended by the sixteenth-century priest and spiritual guide St. Ignatius of Loyola. It encourages us to reflect on the content of our daily life, much the way Proverbs does. In so doing, the Examen helps us to become ever more present to the now moment in which we live and what it might have to offer us. It can be particularly helpful to reduce the power of anxiety and identify and increase God’s serenity in our lives.

 

To do the Examen, sit down at the end of each day and think through what has happened, looking for places where you particularly felt the presence or absence of God.  Some people describe it as sitting down on the couch with Jesus to tell him about your day. This review of the day can be done in your mind, written in a journal, or spoken aloud, depending on what feels most comfortable and fruitful for you.

 

The hope in engaging in this kind of daily thoughtful and prayerful review is that you might become more sensitive to where the Holy Spirit is moving in your life and to your own spiritual ups and downs. Naming the places in which you are close to God, or close to the person you want to be, is a way to notice patterns and see if those moments can become more frequent and more joyful. Naming places of absence is a way to invite God into them and see what other patterns (like anxiety) might be leading you away from God’s peace and holiness.

 

How to practice:

1.  Invite God In:

Some ways to invite God's presence include a short prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to enter the space and the experience.  Others find it more helpful to invite through a Scripture such as Psalm 46:10a (Be still and know that I am God) or 2 Corinthians 3:17 (Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom) or a verse of your choosing.

2.  Gratitude:

Once God has been invited in, some gratitude for God's wonders can help establish a base from which to consider the more challenging parts of the day.  Gratitude has also been shown again and again to help us have a more positive outlook on life, even if our circumstances remain the same.  Ask yourself what in this day and in this moment are you thankful for?

3.  Review:

Next is the primary activity of the Examen, reviewing the day.  Pairs of questions are most helpful for identifying the patterns that can then become a source for investment into spiritual transformation.  Consider any of these pairs of questions or come up with your own:

a.  Where did I find God today?  Where did I feel God's absence?

b.  When were times I knew peace?  When were times I was out of peace?

c.  When did I share the love of Christ?  When did I withhold the love of Christ?

4.  In God's Hands:

Close in such a way that you offer yourself the opportunity to start over again the next day, not dwelling on what you have already considered and learned from during this day.  Part of the hope of the Examen is that it will help you to be more aware of the present moment in your daily life and keep you from being stuck in past guilt or future anticipation.  It can't help you do this if it becomes another source for worry and rumination.  Therefore, pray at the close for all you have considered, the good and the bad, to be put in God's hands and for you to be released from it.  Pair this with any physical or verbal act that helps you let things go.  And pray that wisdom and serenity may begin to follow.

(Finding Peace in an Anxious World, 29-31)