The Prayer of Examen
"O LORD, you have searched me and known me." ~ Psalm 139:1
How do I become more aware of God's presence in my life? How can I be more attentive to the loving messages God's sends me? What should I do about my job, my loved one, or my depression? If you've ever asked yourself questions like these, you may find the Prayer of Examen very helpful. Essentially, the Prayer of Examen is a prayer practice that helps us become more attentive to God's presence and action in our lives. It also helps us to consciously reflect on and acknowledge the events, experiences, and feelings of one's day. There are several ways to practice this prayer, but one very simple method is provided below:
The Examen Process:
1. Light a candle as a sign of God's Presence.
2. Become aware of God's loving Presence.
- Maybe place your hand on your heart.
- Breathe in deeply God's unconditional love.
3. Take about 5 minutes of silence as you ask yourself 2 questions:
a. For what moment today am I most grateful?
- If you could relive one moment, what would it be?
- What made it so special?
- Remember it. Relive it. Be grateful for it.
b. For what moment today am I least grateful?
- What made it difficult?
- Don't judge it or try to fix it or wish it away.
- Let God accept you as you are.
4. Give thanks for what you experienced.
There are many ways you can ask yourself the above 2 questions. Some other examples include:
a. When did I give and receive the most love today?
When did I give and receive the least love today?
b. When did I feel the most alive today?
When did I feel life draining out of me?
c. When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, and God?
When did I have the least sense of belonging?
d. When was I happiest today?
When was I saddest?
e. What was today's high point?
What was today's low point?
f. Where was I cooperating with God's work in my life?
Where was I resisting God's work in my life?
g. For what do I need to thank God?
For what do I need to confess to God or to another?
- Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn (Paulist Press, 1995).
- Ignatius of Loyola: Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works (Paulist Press, 1991)