1.14.15–>”The Examen Prayer”


This is a prayer of reflection and self-examination associated with Ignatius of Loyola and his spiritual exercises of the sixteenth century. It is quite an excellent tool for tuning in and becoming present and aware of God’s working in and throughout your day as well as growing an awareness of your own heart’s stirrings and motives. It grants spiritual clarity.

For any of you who are not familiar with it, or maybe have not looked at it in a while, here is a tiny primer and outline of it from Timothy Gallagher’s beautiful book The Examen Prayer: It is “a way of praying that opens our eyes to God’s daily self-revelation and increasingly clarifies for us our own responses to it. As this spiritual clarity grows, we gain a correspondingly greater freedom to respond and so to progress in our relationship with God. We find a path toward what our hearts most deeply desire: a growing relationship in love with God (Ps.63:1), and so with the People of God…In our spiritual tradition, this way of praying is called the examen. Although it did not begin with him and is not unique to him, the examen is associated in a particular way with Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), who so richly experienced it and so ably taught it to others.”

An Outline of the Examen

“This outline is based on Igantius’ presentation of the examen in the Spiritual Exercises (no.43). I placed it here as an introduction to all that follows; it may also serve, once the content of this book has been assimilated, as a practical tool in praying the examen.”

Transition: I become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin this examen.

Step One. Gratitude. I note the gifts that God’s love has given me this day, and I give thanks to God for them.

Step Two. Petition. I ask God for an insight and a strength that will make this examen a work of grace, fruitful beyond my human capacity alone.

Step Three. Review. With my God, I review the day. I look for the stirrings in my heart and the thoughts that God has given me this day. I look also for those that have not been given by God. I review my choices in  response to both, and throughout the day in general.

Step Four. Forgiveness. I ask for the healing touch of the forgiving God who, with love and respect for me, removes my heart’s burdens.

Step Five. Renewal. I look to the following day, and with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God’s loving desire for my life.

Transition: Aware of God’s presence within me, I prayerfully conclude the examen.

Traditionally this is prayed in the evening, perhaps before bed. I have also found it very helpful to pray sometime in the afternoon as a refocusing for the day. It has been a wonderful tool in fostering a greater awareness of God throughout the day in my experience, slowing me down before the day gets away and lost. Maybe it could be a helpful practice for you too!

In the Name of Jesus, 
Soli Deo Gloria

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