During one of my retreats at the Seven Fountains retreat centre at Chiangmai, Fr David Townsend taught me a method of prayer and reflection. I have found this prayer exercise helpful and useful in making me more aware of God’s presence, gifts and activity in daily life. I used an acronym A.G.E.N.T. so it was easily remembered and I could go through the steps without referring to notes. It was mechanical at first but with regular use of this acronym, I hardly notice nowadays. Try out these steps:
A. IS FOR ASKING GOD TO HELP YOU REVIEW THE DAY
Begin the reflection with a simple prayer: Lord, as I review all the happenings, meetings and conversations with people, and action and reactions, and the feelings and images that floated by or hovered over the day, help me to see where YOU were present and active.
G. IS FOR GRATITUDE FOR GOD’S GIFTS THROUGH THE DAY
There are many things to be thankful for every day. Just this morning my wife and daughter and I went for a walk at the Lower Pierce Reservoir. It was cool even at 10am I was surprised I have never been here before. After the short walk we sat at a concrete bench and had some cut mango. It was a beautiful moment, something to be grateful to God for, a gift from a loving Father, but this was not in my thoughts. I only noticed this as I now reflect about the morning. I recall the feeling of joy of being together with loved ones, the taste of smooth succulent mango after the walk. Lord, thank you a beautiful day and for shared moments such as these.
I also recall how we talked about the prophecies given to Elaine over her teenage years to today. We could see how different prophecies sang the same song, and how those prophecies came to pass in her life. Lord, thank you. You are watching over her and guiding her life, and she is doing the good works that God has prepared for her beforehand.
Even as look for things we are thankful for, the unpleasant moments also pop up. One was the Thai dish I ordered at a Thai restaurant for lunch. I ordered Khao Soi. I was looking for a noodle dish I had in the Seven Fountains. I thought this was it but it wasn’t. I felt punctured. It felt like I had Chiangmai’s version of laksa. Lord this was so disappointing. I don’t want to try looking for it again. Maybe I will get to taste it one day in the retreat centre in future.
E. IS TO LOOK FOR THE MAIN EMOTIONS OF THE DAY
It was one of joy for me today. A most enjoyable and restful day.
N. IS FOR TAKING NOTICE OF SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN THEN TURN INTO A CONVERSATION WITH THE LORD.
Notice an event, insight, meeting, conversation, image, emotion that stands out or calls for further conversation with the Lord. In this situation, I would pray for Elaine, and ask that the Lord will continue to watch over His word to fulfill it in her life and for her to live for the glory of God, and to be kept safe as she returns to the United States to work.
T. IS FOR PRAYING ABOUT TODAY/TOMORROW
If I was reflecting at the beginning of the day, I would pray about the day ahead. Who am I meeting, what will I be doing, what am I anxious about, what help do I need from the Lord. If I was reflecting at the end of the day, I would do the same for tomorrow’s meetings.
Try this over a week on a daily basis. Write some notes of significant feelings, images or meetings or conversations. At the end of the week, take a look at the whole week and have a conversation with the Lord about the week.
If you find this reflection and prayer exercise life-giving, continue with it, and drop a note in the comment box to share what your experiences were.
The above was my modification of the prayer steps that was taught by St Ignatius almost 400 years ago. The original looked like THIS. St Ignatius original method had been modified for contemporary use and one version of it was shared with me HERE. This version was written by Fr David Townsend, a spiritual director at Seven Fountains. If the method gets stale, and you want to explore a variety of prayerful reflection, you will want to download this app from Google Play called REIMAGINING THE EXAMEN.