4.5.15–>”The Examen Prayer” (part 2)


Psalm 119:59

I considered my ways, pondered the direction of my life, and turned my feet to your decrees.

Step three of the examen is review. This is that valuable habit of reflection. You simply walk back through your day, from waking up, looking for where God was at work, when you were paying attention to Him, and when you were not. 

The bigger words Ignatius used for this are consolations and desolations. In short, consolations are those things you recognize as bringing you closer to God, and desolations are those things that take you away from God. These “things” we review could very well be activities, but much of the time they will be our thoughts. We ask ourselves which thoughts were God-inspired, and which ones seemed to be inspired by the enemy in order to draw us away from God.

Never wanting to overwhelm ourselves, you may begin by reviewing just one part of your day and your thoughts that arose within it. Here are some questions you may ask:

  • Where was God in my activity today?
  • Toward what was the Lord calling me today?
  • How did I respond to this call?
  • Were there inclinations and thoughts this day that were not of God? If there were, was I able to discern and resist them?
  • Was the use of my freedom in accord with God’s loving desire for me today?
  • What brought me peace today?
  • What brought me anxiety this day?
Timothy Gallagher, in his book on this practice, says that “Each of our days is filled with a richness of interior experience: love, hopes, anxieties, joys, fears, attractions, resistances, desires, disinclinations, all accompanied by an endless flux of varied thoughts. This interior experience occurs in the context of continual and constantly changing activity: interactions with others, conversations, meals, prayer, work, travel, projects, planning, and decision-making.”

The examen helps us “make sense” of our days and to better pay attention to the activity of God that we easily overlook if we do not take the time to notice it. These spiritual practices, remember, are to bring us closer to God and create space for His filling us. And we do this in large part via intentionally paying attention to Him.

Tomorrow we will look at step four: Forgiveness.


Always, only, for my King

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