Best of Daily Reflections: What Helps You Pay Attention to How You’re Living? Part 2

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15

In yesterday’s reflection, we focused on the first part of Ephesians 5:15, “Be very careful, then, how you live.” We saw that the Greek could be translated more literally, “Look carefully, then, how you are walking.” This exhortation encourages us to pay close attention to how we’re living, rather than walking through life with our eyes closed. One way to do this, as I suggested yesterday, is to pause briefly during the day, to think for a few moments about how you’re living, and to ask God to help you “watch your step” as you walk.

Today, I want to share another practical way for us to do what Ephesians 5:15 commends. It’s really quite simple: Set aside time each day to take stock of your life. This could be part of your morning ritual, perhaps connected to your regular devotional time. Some people do this at midday, though I don’t think this would work for me. You might find it helpful to reflect on your day in the evening, before you go to bed. You don’t have to practice a daily personal inventory, but, if you’re like me, you need daily rituals to keep going with something. Honestly, if I don’t do something daily, it’s easy for me to forget about it. (I used to be terrible about flossing my teeth until I determined to do it daily. Now I almost never miss, much to my dentist’s delight.)

My wife, Linda, reflects on her day with the help of a spiritual guide called the Examen. This technique of prayerful examination was created by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. It is practiced by Christians throughout the world today (including Pope Francis). There are different versions of the Examen, one of which goes like this: As you sit quietly, 1) Recognize God’s presence with you; 2) Give thanks for the gifts of the day; 3) Ask the Spirit to help you reflect upon your day; 4) Review your day honestly, being aware not just of your actions, but also your motives, attitudes, and feelings; 5) Speak openly with Jesus about your day, confessing where you went astray, asking for his help, wisdom, and grace for tomorrow.

Linda has been practicing the Examen at night for several years. It has deepened her faith and invigorated her walk with Christ. You might think that her example would help me to do the same. It has, a bit. But my old habits die hard. No matter what my soul yearns for, my flesh wants to plop down in front of the TV or read a good thriller. Not that there’s anything wrong with these things, mind you. But I continue to ask for God’s grace to help me finish my day by pausing to reflect upon it, to look carefully how I have walked so that I might be even more attentive in the future. Perhaps by sharing this with you I’ll be encouraged even more to spend reflective time with the Lord at the end of each day, and not only in the mornings.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to look carefully at how you are living? Do you have a daily practice of reflecting on your life? If not, is this something that you would like?

PRAYER: Gracious God, you call us to watch carefully how we live. This is indeed an imperative, something we should do because you have told us to. But it is also a gracious invitation, an opportunity to live more intentionally, with greater meaning, joy, and gratitude.

Help me, Lord, to pay attention to how I’m living on a regular basis. By your grace, I ask for the discipline to do this each day. Help me to stop long enough to allow you to help me see my life from your perspective. I thank you in advance for your grace in this matter. Amen.

Mark Roberts is the Executive Director of Digital Media and the Theological and Cultural Steward for Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is the author of eight books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer. He lives in Boerne, Texas, with his wife, Linda. Their children spend most of the year away at college on the East Coast.

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