Because devotional prayer is often so focused on our personal areas of need, gratitude, and grace, it gives us an excellent opportunity for self-examination. Prayer is intimately connected to reflection, and vice versa, so the observations we make as we step back and review ourselves are naturally tied to the presence of God for people of faith.
We turn to St. Jude particularly because of his long-standing association with hope and healing, and the cleansing newness—the freshly-scrubbed sense of the spirit—inviting him into our lives provides. Gathering our thoughts for the prayers we offer in devotion is its own form of spiritual reflection, one we know very well.
With St. Jude standing by, there is a trusted guiding spirit with us as we look within. His merciful way with us can lead to a merciful, yet honest and sincere, way of looking at ourselves when we ask the simple but important questions of self-examination.
These questions should come from a place of self-love and learning, leading us to a path of growth both spiritually and then reflected in our daily lives, too. The questions will most likely evolve the deeper we get into our self-awareness, but they are not meant to be self-criticism. There is a distinct difference between self-criticism and self-reflection; if we feel the line between the two is getting a bit blurred, don’t hesitate to offer a spontaneous prayer to St. Jude to keep you focused in positive reflection.
As we shape our tone with ourselves to hold the same kind of gentleness we would use with our beloved family and friends, we’re much better able to hear our own sense of what’s needed for change, what our strengths are, and where our next spiritual growth opportunity might be.
"Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness; make your way straight before me."