The Examen • An Ancient Prayer of Reflection
Beautiful in its simplicity, The Examen is an ancient prayer of reflection, which helps refocus our hearts and minds. How often do we come to the end of a day and wonder where the time went, regret the way we handled a situation or treated someone, received good news, but didn’t take moment to celebrate it?
The Examen is an opportunity to:
- discern God’s Presence in every moment and in all things
- express our gratitude for God’s many blessings
- review the highs and lows of each day
- pray for our hearts to be aligned with God’s
- ask God for the strength, patience, peace, wisdom, and grace to fulfill His will for our lives
HOW TO RECOGNIZE GOD IN EVERY MOMENT
If you find it difficult to sit quietly with God, choose a Scripture verse to read and think about, such as Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” Use these questions to help you get you started as you review your day:
Questions to Consider
- What brought me joy today?
- Who or what encouraged, inspired, or made me smile?
- What left me feeling drained, anxious, angry, or impatient?
- Where did I lean into God’s Presence?
- Where did I resist God?
- How did I show God’s love to others today?
- How did the Spirit prompt me to serve those in front of me?
- Who or what am I most grateful for today?
- Who or what was I least grateful for?
- Where did I fail to show others the love of God?
- Do I need to seek restoration in a relationship?
- What are You trying to teach me through these moments, Lord?
- When did the Spirit invite me to be more like Jesus today?
- Where am I grasping for control?
- As I think about tomorrow, what do I need to release into God’s hands?
- Where might the God of disguise surprise me?
- How might God use a particular person or activity to fan the flame of my faith tomorrow?
When you’re ready, find a comfortable spot and enter into the five steps of The Examen.
THE FIVE STEPS OF THE EXAMEN
1. Notice God’s Presence
Look back over your day and make note of the times you experienced God’s Presence. If the day is a blur or a jumble, ask God to bring clarity and to reveal His Presence in your day.
2. Give Thanks
As you review the day, thank God for each blessing and gift you remember. Focus on the details – what you ate, who you interacted with, what you did, what you heard, what you read, how you felt.
3. Ask Forgiveness
Be honest with God about the moments when you fell short today – when you were impatient or quick-tempered, when you lacked compassion or ignored a need, when you engaged in gossip – and ask for forgiveness.
4. Pray About One Thing
Talk with God about one joy, one sorrow, one surprise, or one specific situation from today and let Him speak to your heart.
5. Hope for Tomorrow
Ask God to guide you through every step of tomorrow, to remind you that He is with you through every breath, that you trust Him with every moment, that your hope is in Him only.
God wants us to be present where we are. He invites us to see and to hear what is around us and, through it all, discern the footprints of the Holy. Richard Foster
Prayer of Examen
Beautiful in its simplicity, this ancient prayer of reflection helps refocus our hearts and minds. How often do we come to the end of a day and wonder where the time went or regret the way we handled a situation?
RECOGNIZE GOD’S PRESENCE
The Examen invites us to recognize God’s Presence in every moment of our lives. As we lean in – learning to listen for His still small Voice and to discern the work of His Hands – our faith strengthens and grows. Ignatius of Loyola wrote, “All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely and serve him more faithfully.” Through the daily invitation of Examen, we reflect and remember, as our relationship with One who calls us into His loving embrace deepens and grows.
Prayer is a precious invitation from God. Let’s Pray! Often, we overthink prayer. We complicate it by seeking the right words, the right time or place, or the perfect formula. We may be so afraid of getting it wrong that we fail to pray at all.
The Examen Journal is a prayer tool to empower you to reflect on your daily highs and lows as a means of exploring God's presence in your life. Meaningful questions guide your journal entries. Your conversations with God are collected in one place for you keep and pray over. The Examen Journal doesn't require a background in theology, a knowledge of scripture, or even a structured study plan. All you need is an honest heart, the desire to be with God, and a few minutes each day.
A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer: Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius Loyola's Examen
For most people most of the time, prayer is hard. It is especially difficult—not to mention unsatisfying—when people experience it as formal, dry, and repetitious. But what might happen if you discovered a simple prayer that changed all that? What if you discovered a prayer that changed you? By following five simple yet powerful steps for praying the examen, we can encounter the God whose presence in our lives can make all the difference in the world.
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