Finding God in Daily Life

The Daily Examen

Finding God in our daily life is one of the key disciplines for spiritual growth. Henry Blackaby reminds that “God is always at work around you.” While this is true, it is equally true that many often lack the awareness of his activity. St. Ignatius Loyola created a simple exercise called the examen that helps in finding God in our daily life.

The Go Commission Spiritual Disciplines Finding God

This article is part of a series of articles on Spiritual Disciplines.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, writes that “the examen provides a way of noticing where God shows up in our day. It is a practice that attends to what we might otherwise miss in the press of duties and busyness.”

How the Examen Helps Us

The Upper Room clarifies that the examen helps us:

  • Acknowledge sad or painful feelings and hear how God is speaking to us through them.
  • Overcome a pessimistic outlook by encouraging us notice the good in each day.
  • Tell the truth about who we truly are and what we need, rather than who we think we should be.
  • Become aware of seemingly insignificant moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.

The Examen Outline

There are many different ways to approach this spiritual discipline. Most are some variation of this outline.

  1. Plan to spend a few moments in prayer, usually near the end of your day. You may want a journal to record reflections.
  2. Acknowledge your awareness of God’s presence.
  3. Review the day to identify something for which you are grateful.
  4. Reflect on the activities of your day. The questions below will guide you.
  5. Pray into the insights that you have gained.
  6. Look with hope for new tomorrow.
  7. End with the Lord’s Prayer

Examen Questions for Finding God

Here are some questions that will help you as you reflect on your day. They are copied or modified from several sources.

  • For what moment am I most grateful? Least grateful?
  • When did I see evidence of God’s presence?
  • What were the highs—what was most life-giving? What were the lows—what was most life-depleting?
  • When did I give and receive the most love today?
  • When did I give and receive the least love today?
  • Where have I felt true joy today?
  • What has troubled me today?
  • Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?
  • When today did I feel the most discontented, uncomfortable, and the least like myself?
  • When did God seem absent in my life today?

Looking for Hope

After reflection, it might be that the first step on pathway toward hope will be to seek forgiveness. The Holy Spirit will guide you if this step is necessary. God is always ready to forgive and give you a new start.

Would you like to learn more about finding God? Click this link for information about a free opportunity to explore spiritual disciplines will help you do just that.


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Spiritual Growth Bibliography

A List Compiled by my Friends and Me

Reading for spiritual growth is important to all pastors and church leaders. Recently, I asked my email list to suggest their 2 or 3 favorites books to include in a spiritual growth bibliography. Below is the list they provided. I may have missed a few of the suggestions, but I’ve tried to include them all, even if they weren’t directly on topic. These are the books that helped people’s spiritual growth, plus a few of my suggestions.

Spiritual Growth Bibliography The Go Commission

Spiritual Growth Bibliography

Neil Anderson: Victory Over the Darkness

Arbinger Institute: Leadership and Self-Deception

Mark Batterson: Circle Maker

John Bevere: Killing Kryptonite

Henry Blackaby: Experiencing God

Deitrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship

Cynthia Bourgeault: The Wisdom Jesus

Sam Bruce: Spiritual Formation: Forming Your Relationship with God, Transforming Your Relationships with People

Walter Brueggemann: Living Toward a Vision: Biblical Reflections on Shalom

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook

Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest

Francis Chan: Crazy Love

Francis Chan: Forgotten God

H.B. Charles, Jr.: It Happens After Prayer

G.K. Chesterton: Heretics

G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy

Henry Cloud & John Townsend: Boundaries

Henry Cloud & John Townsend: How People Grow

Douglas Connelly: The Bible for Blockheads

Wayne Cordeiro: The Divine Mentor

Larry Crabb: Inside Out

Jim Cymbala: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

DC Talk: Jesus Freaks: Martyrs

Wesley L. Duewel: Touch the World Through Prayer

Dick Eastman and Jack Hayford: Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name

John Eldredge: Sacred Romance

Steve Farrar: Battle Ready

Margaret Feinberg: Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God

Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

Richard Foster: Freedom of Simplicity

Richard Foster: Prayer

Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin: Spiritual Classics

Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith: Devotional Classics

Garry Friesen, J. Robin Maxson: Decision Making and the Will of God

Thomas H. Green, S.J.: Opening to God

Craig Groeschel: The Christian Atheist

Craig Groeschel: Soul Detox

R. Creech,‎ Jim Herrington,‎ Trisha Taylor: The Leaders Journey

Bill Hull: Conversion and Discipleship

Bill Hybels: The Power of a Whisper

Bill Hybels: Too Busy Not to Pray

Kyle Idleman: Not a Fan

Skye Jethani: With

Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck: A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants

Tim Keller: The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

Dennis Kinlaw: The Mind of Christ

Brother Lawrence: The Practice of the Presence of God

Kevin Leman & Kevin Pentak: The Way of the Shepherd

C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters

Peter Lord: Hearing God

Jeff Manion: The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions

James Earl Massey: Spiritual Disciplines: A Believer’s Openings to the Grace of God

John Mason: Enemy Called Average

Robert McGee: The Search for Significance

Erwin McManus: Wide Awake

Reggie McNeal: A Work of Heart

Thomas Merton: Contemplative Prayer

Joyce Meyer: Battlefield of the Mind

Patrick Morley: Man in the Mirror

Henri Nouwen: In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

Arlo F. Newell: Receive the Holy Spirit

Henri Nouwen: Spiritual Direction

Henri Nouwen: The Wounded Healer

John Ortberg: The Life You Always Wanted

John Ortberg: Soul Keeping

Basil Pennington: Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form Eugene Peterson: Under the Unpredictable Plant

Eugene Peterson: Working the Angles

Doug Pollock: God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally

David Putman: Detox (for the Overly Religious)

Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington: DiscipleShift

Robert Quinn: Build The Bridge As You Walk On It

Dennis Rainey: Stepping Up

Richard Rohr: Falling Upward

JC Ryle: Holiness

Oswald Sanders: Spiritual Leadership

Pete Scazzero: Emotionally Healthy Relationships

Pete Scazzero: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Ruth Shinness: Pray Strategy Resource Book

Jerry Sitter: A Grace Disguised

James Bryan Smith: Hidden in Christ: Living as God’s Beloved

James Bryan Smith: The Good and Beautiful God

James Bryan Smith: The Good and Beautiful Life

James Bryan Smith: The Good and Beautiful Community

Charles Solomon: Handbook to Happiness

Charles Solomon: The Ins & Out of Rejection

Gilbert W. Stafford: The Life of Salvation

Gilbert Stafford: Theology for Disciples

Andy Stanley: How Good is Good Enough

Andy Stanley: The Principle of the Path

Steve Strobel: The Case for Christ

Chuck Swindoll: Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Howard Thurman: Deep is the Hunger

Howard Thurman: Meditations of the Heart

Elmer L. Towns: Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough

Lance Wallnau and Bill Johnson: Invading Babylon

Rick Warren: Dynamic Bible Study Methods

Rick Warren: The Purpose Driven Life

Donald Whitney: 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

James Wilhoit: Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered

Dallas Willard: The Divine Conspiracy

Dallas Willard: The Great Omission

Dallas Willard: Hearing God

Dallas Willard: Renovation of the Heart

Dallas Willard: The Spirit of the Disciplines

Flora Slosson Wuellner: Prayer, Stress, and Our Inner Wounds


What’s missing from the spiritual growth bibliography? Add your favorites in the comments.

Here’s the PDF Version


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