Isaiah 58

Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.


If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.

At the turning of the seasons, it’s time for the work of reflection.

This time last year, coronavirus was a novel news item happening ‘out there’. Since then, we have lived through a season that has shaped us like no other. This week through our lenten devotionals, we will look back over the past year, creating space to process the recent inner movements of our souls. Yet before I share some of my reflections, I want to invite you to name some of yours.

To help us process well, we can turn to ancient practice known as the Examen, which invites us to see ourselves clearly from God’s perspective. Through self-examination, we can pray with the Psalmist, that the Father would search us, know us and lead us in the way everlasting.

Rich Villodas defines the Examen as “a way of life that considers the realities of our inner worlds for the sake of our own flourishing and the call to love well.” He goes onto explain the goals of self-examination:

“First, we open ourselves up to the grace and presence of God. Second, we live in the world with greater freedom as we untangle ourselves from the web of inner dysfunction and confusion. Third, we become a presence in this world, more capable of working towards peace with our neighbours and love for those who may be considered enemies.”

The Examen is a simple way of prayerful reflection that can be woven into the fabric of our lives through a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rhythm of practice. Take some time today or this week, to walk slowly through each of the movements, which can be done either by yourself (in silence, by journaling or walking), or with your spouse or family in conversation. Parents, by adapting these questions slightly, you can also invite your children to join in. 

Allow me to walk you through the Examen.


To begin, take a breath and settle into the present moment. Voice a prayer of invitation, like ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, asking Him to help you see the past year clearly and notice the traces of Christ’s presence and leading.


Take some time in silence or in prayerful conversation to recollect and review the past year. Some of the following questions may help guide you:

How have you found the past year difficult? Is there an emotion (anger, joy, grief, frustration), that needs expression? In which ways have you struggled spirituality, emotionally, physically, relationally? In which ways has your faith been tested? What have you lost this year?

In prayer, offer these experiences and emotions to God, as you open yourself up to receive His healing.


Despite hardship, there has been much to celebrate this year. Take time to recollect and review the stories, events and moments that have brought hope, joy and thanksgiving. Some of the following questions may help guide you:

What are you thankful for from this year? When and where did you notice the presence of Jesus this year? In what ways has your faith been strengthened this year? Who has brought you comfort? When did you laugh the hardest? What small things have you begun to pay greater attention to?

In prayer, offer these experiences and emotions to God, as you offer Him your thanksgiving and praise.


As you look to the future, what are you looking forward to? What have you learned in the past year to take with you into the next season? What habits would you like to develop? Where do you want to see God at work? Which parts of your story remain unresolved?

Close your time of self-examination by opening up your hands and praying a prayer of commitment to God, recognising that He has been with you every step of the way and will continue to lead on.

Stuart Bothwell


Depending on which time of day you are practicing this office, you can use the morning or evening prayer. All to pray the following words aloud.

Morning Prayer 

Christ, as a light

illumine and guide me.

Christ, as a shield

overshadow me.

Christ under me;

Christ over me;

Christ beside me

on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me,

lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;

in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.

This day be within and without me,

lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light;

Christ as a shield;

Christ beside me

on my left and my right.


Northumbria Community


Evening Prayer 

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.


Compline Prayer – Common Book of Prayer



If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.

Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.


Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.

“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”

Ann Voskamp

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.

Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton
The Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas
Annual Examen Framework by Resurrection Anglican Church