Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on rethinkingyouthministry.com and is reprinted here with permission.
by Brian Kirk

The Examen

This is a cool ancient form of prayer that asks you to think back over the last week or month. Let your mind wander through the following questions as you pray: Thinking back over the recent past, focus on the moments when you were most grateful and the moments when you were least grateful. What were they? Which moments did you give and receive God’s love the most? When did you give and receive love the least? When you were paying the most attention to the love of God in the world? When were you paying the least attention? Finish by thanking God for the gift of today and ask for guidance in being more open to God’s presence in your daily life.

Pray Scripture

Pick up a Bible and start reading. Select a verse such as, “Truly, I say to you,as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me” and turn it into a prayer: “God help me to to reach out to the least of these in my world and to treat them as your beloved children.” Or select a Psalm as an inspiration for prayer. Try taking the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and write your own translation in a way that reflects your life and needs.

Be quiet

If prayer is a conversation, then you also need to listen in silence. Simply sit in silence, perhaps close your eyes, and see what comes to you.

Meditate on an object

Pick up some natural object nearby (a rock, a leaf, a stick, a flower) and just focus on it for awhile. Admire all its details, its quality, its texture. Consider what a gift this piece of nature is and give thanks.

Give Thanks

Using paper or a journal, make a word cloud or list of all the things in your life or in the world for which you are thankful. If you are feeling artistic, doodle images of all the things you are thankful for today.

Repeat a word or phrase

Chanting or repeating a mantra over and over can focus your thoughts and free your mind to be open to new things. Pick a word to say slowly and repeatedly to yourself quietly (or in your thoughts) such as “love,” “peace,” “life,” or perhaps the name of someone or something important to you. You could also choose a phrase such as “Jesus, be with me,” or “God so loves the world,” or “Open my mind, open my heart.”

Ask Questions

What are the big questions of life you’d like answers to today? You know—the ones like, “Why is there suffering in the world?” Spend some time just asking those questions, one after another, offering them to God and see what happens.


Close your eyes for awhile and imagine the world as God would have it be—not as it is. What do you see? How is that world different from the one we live in today? Now imagine yourself as part of that vision, helping to make it come true. What are you doing? How is God calling you to be part of bringing that vision to reality in your own little corner of the world?

Walk the Labyrinth

Find a copy of a finger labyrinth. Sit in a quiet place and take time to slowly trace your finger along the path of the labyrinth, all the way to the center and the slowly back out. Even better, use a finger of your non-dominant hand. As you move along the path, spend time thinking about your journey of faith, the journey of your life, all the people you have met, the things you have done, the problems you have overcome, the challenges you still face, and focus on where you have encountered God along the way.

Feel the Earth

Take off your shoes and sit in the grass. Let your feet and hands feel the cool grass and the earth beneath you. Open your awareness to the natural world around you and see yourself as part of it. Listen for sounds of insects and animals. Sense the movement of the wind. Enjoy the warmth of the sun. Give thanks for your place in God’s creation.