Examination of Conscience, Again

This is a topic I’ve posted about before (Examination of Conscience) and it’s an important exercise that we should all do regularly. Basically, it’s pondering and confessing our sins. Of course, we do this corporately, when we attend worship, but it’s also good to make time to think about how we’ve fallen short in very specific ways. Recently when I reread Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis (Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis–Book Review) I came across a format that I found really helpful. I’m going to include it here today for others who might like to use it:

(Imagine Christ is speaking to you)

Diligently examine your conscience, and to the utmost of your power purify and make it clear, with true contrition and humble confession; so you may have no burden, nor know anything that may breed remorse of conscience, and hinder your drawing near. Think with displeasure of all your sins in general, and more particularly bewail and lament your daily transgressions. And if time permits, confess to God in the secret of your heart all the wretchedness of evil passions. Groan and lament that you are yet so carnal and worldly, so unmortified from passions; so full of the motions of concupiscence, so unwatchful over your outward sense, so often entangled with many vain imaginations. So much inclined to outward things, so negligent in things inward. So lightly moved to laughter and unbridled mirth, so hardly to tears and contrition. So swift to ease and pleasures of the flesh, so dull to zeal and strictness of life. So curious to hear what is new, and to see what is beautiful, so slack to embrace what is humble and mean. So covetous of abundance, so niggardly in giving, so close in keeping. So inconsiderate in speech, so reluctant to keep silence. So unruly in manners, so fretful in conduct. So eager about food, so deaf to the Word of God. So swift to take rest, so slow to labor. So wakeful after gossiping tales, so drowsy at the sacred services of night; so hasty to arrive at the end, so inclined to wandering and inattention. So careless in observing the hours of prayer, so lukewarm in celebrating, so dry in communicating. So quickly distracted, so seldom thoroughly self-collected. So suddenly moved to anger, so apt to take displeasure against another. So ready to judge, so severe to reprove. So joyful at prosperity, so weak in adversity. So often making good resolutions, and yet bringing them at last to so poor effect.

These and other defects being confessed and bewailed with sorrow and great displeasure at your own infirmity, make a firm resolution to be always amending your life, and making progress in all that is good.

Then, with full resignation and with your entire will, offer up yourself to the honor of My name, on the altar of your heart a perpetual whole burnt offering, even your body and soul, faithfully committing them unto Me.

For more about confession see:

Samuel Johnson’s Prayer of Confession

Confession — It’s Good for the Soul

A Via de Cristo Prayer of Confession and Forgiveness

Thomas A Kempis on Waiting

“My son, commit your cause always to Me; I will dispose of it in due time. Wait for my ordering of it, and you shall find your good there from.”

Thomas A Kempis, On the Imitation of Christ

For more posts about Thomas A Kempis see:

Thomas a Kempis on Union with Christ

A Prayer for Unity with Christ

United with Christ through Holy Communion

Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis–Book Review

Because our Bible study group has been discussing our union with Christ, I decided to reread this Christian classic. If you don’t know anything about its history, here’s a bit of information to start. Thomas a Kempis was born to a religious family in 1380 in a German village in Rhenish Prussia. He became a monk who led a quiet, uneventful life and died at the age of 91. His book, Of the Imitation of Christ, has been translated into more languages than any book except the Bible, and it speaks to Thomas’s own close walk with the Lord.

The book consists of many short devotional readings, so you can go through it slowly and take your time. Some entries are prayers, others short essays. There are four sections within the book:

*Admonitions Useful for a Spiritual Life

*Admonitions Pertaining to Inward Things

*Internal Consolation

*A Devout Exhortation to the Holy Communion

Thomas was a Catholic (this was before the Protestant Reformation), so you may find some theological differences, particularly in the section about Holy Communion.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. A good choice to use during daily devotions.

For more book reviews see:

Heaven is a World of Love by Jonathan Edwards — Book Review

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad–Book Review

Like Christ by Andrew Murray–Book Review

United with Christ through Holy Communion

This I long for, that I may be wholly united unto Thee, and may withdraw my heart from all created things, and by means of sacred communion, and the frequent partaking thereof, may learn more and more to relish things heavenly and eternal. Ah, Lord God, when shall I be wholly made one with Thee and lost in Thee, and become altogether forgetful of myself? Thou in me, and I in Thee (John 15:4); so also grant that we may continue together in one. Verily, Thou are ‘my beloved …. the chiefest among ten thousand’ (Song of Solomon 5:10), in whom my soul is well pleased to dwell all the days of her life. Verily, Thou art my Peacemaker, in whom is the highest peace and true rest; out of whom is labor and sorrow and infinite misery. ‘Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself’; (Isaiah 45:15) and Thy counsel is not with the wicked, but with the humble and ‘he giveth grace unto the lowly’ (Proverbs 3:34).”

From Of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

For more posts the sacrament of Holy Communion see:

Clarity about Communion

God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 1

God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 2

Praying for Those Who Hurt Us

The Bible tells us to pray for everyone, not just our friends and families, the people for whom we have affection. In fact,

” But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28

I’ve been trying to do this recently. It isn’t easy but it’s helpful. When we pray for someone who has hurt us, or who seems to be set against us, we begin to be more understanding, and we start to see our own shortcomings. This short reading from Of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, touched my heart during my devotional reading this morning.

“I offer unto Thee my prayers and sacrifices of propitiation, for those especially who have in any matter hurt, grieved, or reviled me, or who have done me any damage or displeasure. For all those also, whom at any time I have grieved, troubled, burdened, and scandalized by words or deeds, knowingly or in ignorance; that Thou wouldst grant us all equally pardon for our sins, and for our offenses against each other.

Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspicion, indignation, wrath and contention, and whatever may wound and lessen brotherly love.”

For more about praying for others see:

Praying for Enemies?

A Prayer for Unity with Christ

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Praying For One Another

A Prayer for Unity with Christ

O most merciful Jesus, grant to me Thy grace, that it may be with me and labor with me, and persevere with me even to the end.

Grant me always to desire and to will that which is to Thee most acceptable. Let Thy will be mine, and let my will ever follow Thine, and agree perfectly with it. Let my will be one with Thine and let me not be able to will or not to will anything else, but what Thou willest or willest not.

Grant that I may die to all things that are in the world, and for Thy sake love to be condemned and not known in this generation. Grant to me above all things that can be desired to rest in Thee, and in Thee to have my heart at peace. Thou art the true peace of the heart; Thou its only rest; out of Thee all things are hard and restless. In this peace, in this selfsame thing, that is, in Thee, the chiefest eternal good, I will sleep and rest (Psalm 4:8). Amen

From Of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

For more prayers see:

A Prayer to be Taught by the Holy Spirit

A Prayer for Our Friends

Martin Luther’s Prayer about the Word

Thomas a Kempis on Union with Christ

“The doctrine of Christ exceeds all the doctrine of holy men; and he who has the Spirit will find therein ‘the hidden manna’ (Rev. 2:17). But many who hear the Gospel of Christ have little desire for it, because they ‘have not the Spirit of Christ’ (Romans 8:9). But whosoever will fully and with relish understand the words of Christ must endeavor to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ.”

Thomas a Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ

“You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if in fact the spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:9-10

For more about the book of Romans see:

Martin Luther on the Book of Romans

Being a Biblical Christian, part 2

You Are Not Swayed by Appearances

More About Books & Reading

Do not be influenced by the importance of the writer, and whether his learning be great or small, but let the love of pure truth draw you to read. Do not inquire, Who said this? but pay attention to what is said.

Thomas a Kempis

 

Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.

Helen Keller

 

Books are not men and yet they stay alive.”

Henry Ward Beecher

 

As you grow ready for it, somewhere or other, you will find what is needful for you in a book.

George MacDonald ‘

For some books you might like to read, see these reviews:

Nothing is Wasted by Lore Cottone–Book Review

The Leadership Formula by Juan Sanchez–Book Review

Sick of Me – Book Review

 

A Prayer for the End of the Day

Grant to me above all things that can be desired, to rest in Thee, and in Thee to have my heart at peace.  Thou art the true peace of the heart, Thou its only rest;  out of Thee all things are hard and restless.  In this very peace, that is, in Thee, the One Chiefest Eternal Good, I will sleep and rest.

Thomas A Kempis

Be Patient And Humble?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Colossians 3:12

Yes, there it is.  We’re commanded by God to be patient.  Patience is not one of my strong suits.  And humble?  That’s even more difficult.  Yet when I am feeling impatient with others, a good dose of humility is in order.  I’m sure there are plenty of people I irritate on a daily basis.  I know I exasperate God constantly.  If I’m honest, I even find my failure to live up to my ideals pretty annoying.  This quote from Thomas A Kempis was in my devotional reading this morning, and it really spoke to me.  Maybe it will resonate with you as well.

“Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, of what sort soever they be;  for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne with by others. If thou canst not make thyself such a one as thou wouldst, how canst thou expect to have another in all things to thy liking?”