Pray The Examen
A prayer of gratitude, an invitation to discover God's loving action and blessings in your daily life.
The Examen is a prayer of graced awareness in reflecting upon encountering God’s presence and action in our everyday: to see the day as it was through the eyes of Christ; to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading direction for us; and to respond to the Father’s loving invitation for renewal and rejoicing.
The Examen is a prayer of daily reflection developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola more than five hundred years ago. It can help us see God’s hand in our daily-lived experience. "Experience alone does not teach us much, it is when we reflect on our experience that we begin to learn and grow in awareness of God's ongoing activity in our life. It’s a simple yet profound prayer of discernment that can transform our lives of desiring and growing in holiness day-by-day in 'finding God in all things'." (Jesuits of South Africa)
The Examen is a window of time for prayer, where we reflect upon how we encountered others in God in the everyday. It is a simple daily prayer, with God, who offers us gifts of transforming grace. Also called the prayer of Consciousness or the prayer of Reflection in which we take a journey into the recent past, to savor the present, and to look with hope towards the future.
A PRAYER OF GRACED AWARENESS - Taking Notice
“Examen comes from the Latin word that means both an examination and an active weighing or judging something. It’s as old as Socrates instruction to “know thyself.“
It’s a practice of regular self-scrutiny. Ignatius took this ancient tradition of prayer of reflection and made a way to experience God, as well as to assess our behavior.
The Examen is not a liturgical prayer, devotional prayer, intercession, or prayer with scripture. It’s not contemplation or centering prayer which is emptying our mind of images, words, or ideas. The Examen is the kind of prayer that lives in our hearts to God who does not stand apart from our lives. Each moment offers a window into where God has been in your day.
How to Pray the Examen*
1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”
An Examen transcribed from the Jesuits of South Africa:
Step 1 - Preparation
Slow your mind and calm your body and gently relax in God‘s presence. Imagine God welcoming you.
Step 2 - Gratitude
Ask God to show you the day through God’s eyes. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God.
Notice any joys and delights, and focus on the day's gifts.
Look at the day, look at the work you did, look at the people you interacted with. What did you receive from them? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.
Step 3 - Review
Notice moments when you were fully alive, times when you felt at peace, joyful, happy, comforted, whole, your best self, and moments when you feel close to God.
Allow some of these moments to come to mind. These are times of consolation.
Pick a moment that you feel most grateful for and stay with it, savor it.
Notice how God is drawing you to more of those experiences. Take some time to give thanks to God.
Now, remember anything that you are less grateful for. Experiences that caused you to feel drained of energy, frustrated, irritated, angry, sad, alone, isolated, unaccepted, fragmented…less than your best self.
Bring these memories before God; ask God to bring you the healing you need.
Step 4 - Choose
Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling - positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person. It may be a moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may seem rather insignificant. Look at it.
Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart. Whether it be intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude
Step 5 Look Forward to Tomorrow with Hope
Look forward to tomorrow. Ask God to give you grace for tomorrow’s challenges.
Pay attention to the feelings that surface as your survey what is coming up.
Are you doubtful, cheerful, apprehensive, or full of delightful anticipation?
What do you think you particularly need for tomorrow, strength, energy, patience, courage?
Ask for that gift.
The Examen of Consciousness: the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Fairfield University 1. Thanksgiving
Lord, I realize that all, even myself, is a gift from you.
Today for what am I most grateful?
Lord, open my eyes and ears to be more honest with myself.
Today, what do I really want for myself?
Lord, show me what has been happening to me and in me this day.
Today, in what ways have I experienced your love?
Lord, I am still learning to grow in your love.
Today what choices have been inadequate responses to your love?
Lord, let me look with faith and hope toward the future.
Today, how will I let you lead me to a brighter tomorrow?
Our Lady of the Way, Pray for us!
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