Scripture: Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
Mark 7:15 NIV
Our heart (internal disposition toward God) is the most important offering we make toward God. No external act of piety can overcome a hardened heart. Only by inviting God into hearts sincere will God’s grace overcome our human tendency toward sin. Jesus taught this because he could see the hearts of the Pharisees. On the exterior, people thought they were close to God. However, on the interior (under the hood so to speak), the Pharisees were far from God, broken, and corrupt.
How do you feel about God or your neighbor? Do you feel bitter or angry? At least once a week, I will perform an examination of conscience. Classically, this is called a prayer of examen. It is an inventory of feelings and intentions. It is a heart check to become more aware of our disposition toward God and neighbor. This kind of prayer is less about speaking to God, and more about introspection and reflection of our interior lives.
Lord, you have searched me and know me. Help me to reflect on my spiritual interior that my exterior life may genuinely and sincerely reflect your will. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
5-step guide to a prayer of examen
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow