Today’s guest post, Search Me and Know Psalm 139 written by Anthea Kotlan first appeared on antheakotlan.com.
Search Me and Know Me: Using a Self-Examen Practice in the Season of Lent
Some years the season of Lent can feel chaotic. In contrast, this season is designed to be a time of spiritual renewal and contemplation. Since life may throw me endless curve balls, disruptions, and changes, sometimes I need to push a pause button and take a moment to practice a spiritual discipline known as self-examen.
What is Self-examen?
It is the practice of setting aside time alone with the Lord and seeking the Holy Spirit to check on my spiritual health. I decided to use Psalm 139 as a map to guide me and travel through each verse, stopping to ask these questions. These questions, created by author Ruth Haley Barton, can serve as a prayer guide that allows me to take each verse and see what God had for me there.
- Adoration, what is a way I could praise and adore God for the quality in this verse?
- Confession, what is something I need to ask God for forgiveness regarding this verse?
- Has God used his word to illuminate a sin?
- Thanksgiving- what do I need to give thanks for God in this verse?
- Supplication -what does this verse bring to mind that I need to pray about?
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:1-24 ESV)
Lord, would you use this practice of self-examine to “search me, O God, and know my heart.” I am easily fooled and distracted. Please send a fresh wave of your Holy Spirit to guide me. Lord, “try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” Lord, fill my mind with your truth and your guidance. Please help me to glorify you.
In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
I want to thank Ruth Haley Barton for her suggestion of using this Psalm for this practice of self-examination. Check out her brilliant work on spiritual disciplines. (Barton, Ruth Haley. Sacred Rhythms. IVP, 2006)
I would love to hear how God spoke to you through your self-examen. What did you find in Psalm 139, and what did God find in you?
*Lent falls at different points on the church calendar each year but lasts for the 40 days leading up to Easter. This year Lent 2023 begins on February 22nd. This season can invite us to take a spiritual inventory and consider taking on and giving up certain practices to make more room for Jesus in our lives.
For over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com
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