On the Fridays of Lent, Night Prayer will look at different ways of understanding prayer. In this post, we’ll look at a particular way of praying called the examen. The examen is a gift to us from Saint Ignatius who considered it a gift he received – from God!
The examen is not the same as the examination of conscience you might make before going to confession. Some have said that the examen is, rather, an examination of consciousness. What does that mean? Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ describes this as « rummaging for God.” Think of this as sorting through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around – looking for something you’re sure must be there. In the examen, we look back on the day behind us and rummage through all our « stuff » – and finding God in the midst of it. We know God is there – the examen helps us discover his presence.
What do you need to pray the examen?
Just a few simple things:
1) some quiet time in a quiet place
2) the day you just lived
3) belief that God is everywhere, all the time
4) a desire to discover God’s presence in my life
Tonight’s post includes more than the usual amount of « how-to! »
Below you’ll find an outline of how to pray the examen, followed
by a video expanding on this prayer and finally another video, a
a guided examen, leading you through the prayer, including
quiet segments for your own reflection…
on how to pray the examen at day’s end…
Start by becoming aware of God’s presence.
In a quiet place, start with the Sign of the Cross and remember you are in the presence of your Creator. Slow your breathing. Quiet your mind. Invite the Holy Spirit to join you. Enjoy this moment.
Review Your Day with Gratitude
Think about your day, starting at the beginning. Notice anything which you enjoyed. Linger in those moments and appreciate them. Express your gratitude to God for these blessings.
Nothing is too small to notice. Perhaps you had the chance to say hello to someone you haven’t seen recently. Or you enjoyed a nice cup of tea. Maybe the sunshine on your face felt good. All of these things are gifts from God.
Be Aware of Your Emotions
Notice your feelings as you remember your day. If something evokes a strong response, good or bad, make a note of it as you step through your memories. God made you as a creature with emotions and He speaks to you through these. A strong reaction might be God prompting you to take further action in that area of your life.
Choose One Part of the Day and Pray into It
Pick one experience from your day which stands out. This will often be one of the things which evoked a strong response. Pray into this moment. Ask God what He is trying to tell you. Is He asking you to take action? Maybe you should pick up the phone and call someone. Perhaps you need to learn to be patient and wait.
This is the part where “daily” comes in. If you are finding a pattern in what you are focusing on each day, then then God might be telling you that this area of your life needs some attention. You might need to offer a prayer of repentance or intercession for a friend. Or you might need to just be grateful and aware of how blessed you are.
Look Forward to Tomorrow
Think about tomorrow. If there is something you anticipate being challenging, ask God to accompany you when that moment arrives. If you have been moved by your prayer to do something different in your life, pray that God gives you the strength to do that. If you feel moved to, then make a specific resolution.
Conclude your prayer with the Sign of the Cross. It might also be appropriate to say the Our Father or another prayer.
If you don’t find two videos and a widget below,click here!
And here’s an easy-to-understand overview of the examen
and how to pray it:
And finally, a guided experience of the examen,
leading you through the prayer, leaving quiet times
for your own prayerful response…
And if you’re looking for a song for this evening’s prayer,
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