Spiritual exercises for on holiday

I’ve been preparing for our upcoming holiday, and as well as the packing, route planning etc., I wanted to prepare for the holiday to be a spiritually fruitful one. If I were going on a retreat, I would have a spiritual director prescribing spiritual exercises for me. So I have decided to be my own spiritual director and draw up a plan of spiritual exercises for the holiday. I’m not sure, on a family holiday, how realistic this is, especially the ones during the day. But if Carlo Carretto could experience the desert in the city it must at least be possible. I know I will follow the morning and evening ones. I won’t beat myself up if I don’t manage the daytime ones. It’s an experiment. At least I know it can’t do me any harm! Hopefully I will come home closer to God for it. I thought I would share it in case anyone else wants to try.

Arrival evening
Read: Psalm 4
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Feel the gladness that God has put in your heart. Share it with Him.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 1 morning
Read: 2 Samuel 12. 24-25
Meditate: Imagine you are the adult Solomon reflecting back on the circumstances of your birth. How does it feel to have been born of an adulterous marriage? What does it do to you to know that God has nicknamed you “dearly loved by God”?
Pray: Tell God how His love makes you feel. Bask in it.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 1 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: As often as God brings them to mind, pray for the people you love who are going through difficulties.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 1 evening
Read: Psalm 92
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Tell God what is uppermost in your mind right now. Leave it with Him and do not take it back.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 2 morning
Read: Luke 8. 43-48
Meditate: Imagine you are the woman in this story. How does it feel to have been untouchable for so long? What does it do to you to when Christ singles you out and publicly honours your faith?
Pray: Bring your shame to God. Receive His honour in exchange.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 2 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin, that they will continue to bring a powerful prophetic voice to the world.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 2 evening
Read: Psalm 27
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Tell God what makes you fearful. Leave it with Him and do not take it back.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 3 morning
Read: Luke 7. 36-50
Meditate: Imagine you are Jesus in this situation – you have been treated as a second class guest and an object of curiosity. Your feet have not been washed and you’re here not because your company is valued but because your host thinks you can provide a diverting theological argument. How do you feel in this atmosphere? What does Mary’s worship do for you?
Pray: Tell Jesus you want your worship to minister to Him. Spend some time in silence listening for His response.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 3 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for all those who are working to bring peace and reconciliation in the conflicts of this world. May they, as peacemakers, know that they are sons of God and act with the authority of their Father.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 3 evening
Read: Psalm 119. 65-72
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Ask God to show you ways in which He has allowed and is allowing affliction to shape you and develop your maturity. Listen for His response.
Give thanks: Thank God for the wisdom with which He uses the circumstances of your life to make you more like Christ.

Day 4 morning
Read: Matthew 2. 14
Meditate: Imagine you are Levi (Matthew) sitting in the tax booth, an object of hatred for every Jew who walks past, despised by every Roman who knows you are betraying your own people. How do you feel when Jesus stops by your tax booth? When He calls you to follow Him? When you abandon all your financial security to go with Him?
Pray: Tell Jesus how it makes you feel to have only Him as your security and to follow where He leads through life. Spend some time in silence and allow Him to respond to what you have said.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 4 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Thoughtfully and meaningfully pray the Lord’s Prayer from time to time during the day.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 4 evening
Read: Psalm 113
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Draw near to God and allow Him to lift you from your particular ash heap.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 5 morning
Read: Acts 9. 23-25
Meditate: Imagine you are Saul. Recently you have been kidnapping and murdering Christians, but after your Damascene conversion you are now “one of them” and the Jews are out to kill you. How does it feel when the people you were so recently persecuting take such risks to save your life?
Pray: Tell God how the love of your brothers and sisters in Christ makes you feel. Listen in the stillness for His response.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 5 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for the hearts of fathers to be turned to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers in our nation.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 5 evening
Read: Psalm 134
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Ask God to show you how you can minister to Him by night.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 6 morning
Read: Psalm 118.19-24
Meditate: What does it mean to you to have God open the gates of righteousness for you to enter in? Picture yourself entering through those gates. What lies on the other side?
Pray: This is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 6 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray that the church in this country will not leave anyone feeling despised or abandoned or marginalised, but will go out taking God’s welcome to those who have not felt able to come in.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 6 evening
Read: Psalm 134
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Ask God to show you how you can minister to Him by night. Listen for His reply and then do it.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 7 morning
Read: Luke 7. 11-17
Meditate: Imagine you are this mother. How does it feel to have all your hopes, your future security and the object of all your love lying dead? What is it about Jesus that gives you such a strong first impression of His compassion? What do you see as he restores life to your son? What words do you say to Him to express your feelings for what He has done?
Pray: Ask God to resurrect something in your life today. Spend some time in silence feeling His compassion.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 7 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Notice the other holiday makers around you. Pray God’s blessing on them.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 7 evening
Read: Psalm 37
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: What things are your fretting about? Hand each one to God now and let Him remove it from you.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 8 morning
Read: Matthew 6. 25-34
Meditate: Imagine you are one of Jesus’ hearers. Look at the wild flowers. How do you see them now? Think about your own needs. Picture God meeting every one of them.
Pray: Consciously lay down every one of your anxieties about the future. Breathe in His peace.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 8 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for your suffering brothers and sisters in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 8 evening
Read: Psalm 6
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Receive God’s forgiveness in every area where you need it.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 9 morning
Read: Matthew 18. 23-35
Meditate: Imagine you are the king. How does it feel to have your mercy taken for granted in this way? How do you feel about the man who has not been forgiven by his fellow servant? What would like the unforgiving servant to understand?
Pray: Who has wronged you? Thank God for His forgiveness. Ask Him to help you release that person into His forgiveness too. Open your heart and let Him do it.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 9 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls – by name if you have the list with you. Hold each one up to God and pray for His strength, comfort and healing, and for each mind and heart to be guarded by his peace.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 9 evening
Read: Psalm 124
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: What snares of the trapper has God released you from today? Share with Him how you feel about that. How does He feel about it?
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 10 morning
Read: Matthew 8. 1-4
Meditate: Imagine you are the man with leprosy. What are your feelings as you approach Jesus, certain of His ability but not of His willingness? What do those words “I am willing” mean to you? What do they do to you? Find some words to express how you feel about the One who has healed you.
Pray: Listen to God and let Him tell you what He’s willing to do for you.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 10 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for one of your work colleagues or your neighbours, that God will bless them in such a way while you’re not there that they will have something specific to share with you when you get back.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 10 evening
Read: Psalm 91
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Practice dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. Ask Him to teach you how to abide there.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 11 morning
Read: Philemon 1.10-20
Meditate: Imagine you are Onesimus, the runaway slave. What are your fears? What things trouble your conscience? How does it make you feel to know that Paul considers you his son and longs for your company?
Pray: Tell God how it feels to know that he has made you his son or daughter and longs for your company. Rest in silence and allow Him to tell you how He feels about you.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 11 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for your fellow holiday makers. Ask God for an opportunity to minister his acceptance and fatherhood to someone today.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 11 evening
Read: Psalm 56
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Thank God for noticing and treasuring every one of your tears. What are you afraid of? Take this opportunity to put your trust in God over it.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 12 morning
Read: Mark 10. 13-16
Meditate: Be one of those children. Just rest there like that.
Pray: Tell God how it feels to be accepted as His child. Listen for His response.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 12 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Notice the children around you today. Pray that God will protect them from harm as they grow up and that they will come to know His love.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 12 evening
Read: Psalm 62
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Still your soul and wait in silence for God only.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Day 13 morning
Read: Mark 1.32-34
Meditate: Imagine you are Jesus. How do you feel as you look at the crowd of sick and disabled people waiting for your touch? Picture each one. What do you say to him/her? Now imagine you are one of the people waiting. How does He heal you? What does He say to you?
Pray: In the silence, receive healing from God. Tell Him what it means to you.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Thank God for it.

Day 13 during the day:
Be mindful: Live in the present moment. Notice what is around you. See God in your surroundings, events and the people you are with.
Be prayerful: Pray for your church meeting together back home. Pray that God’s presence among them will be manifestly powerful.
4 times a day: Pray the Jesus prayer at 4 regular intervals throughout the day, like taking regular doses of medicine: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Day 13 evening
Read: Psalm 71
Meditate: Ask God to highlight one phrase from this Psalm to you. Meditate on this phrase, turning it over in your mind as you fall asleep.
Pray: Tell God that you have taken refuge in Him. Listen for His response.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful today? Thank God for it.

Departure morning
Read: Luke 15.11-24
Meditate: How does it feel to be returning home today? Can you picture your Father waiting eagerly to run and embrace you?
Pray: Run into His arms and revel in the warmth of His embrace.
Give thanks: What has made you grateful overnight? Give thanks for it.

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