Prayer of Examen: Day 1

We are a praying church. We want to go deeper,
to experience the Spirit of God, to identify His work
in our lives and in our church. Join us as we commit
to the daily Prayer of Examen for one week.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The daily Prayer of Examen is a spiritual exercise credited to St. Ignatius (1491-1556). His purpose was to encourage his Jesuit followers to deepen sensitivity and awareness of the Presence of God and to receive assistance from the Holy Spirit. This was a very practical goal as many of these Jesuits were serving Living God around the globe, separated from Christian community and working in spiritually hostile environments.

THE PRACTICE

The Prayer of Examen is primarily a practice of remembering. Its focus is the last 24 hours. Through four simple steps one is aided in discovering the activity of God in one's life. The steps are 1) presence, 2) gratitude, 3) review, 4) response. NOTE: always remember the goal is the discovery of the activity of God in your life in the past 24 hours. The goal is not to do the four steps. So, if your sensitivity to the Presence of God spikes in one of the steps, then stay there rather than slavishly moving through the remaining steps.

You will find these "tips" helpful:

  • A relatively quiet and comfortable location will help you reflect on and discover God's presence
  • The activity does not require a certain amount of time--as little as 10 minutes could be very fruitful and you might spend more time on one step of the process compared to the other three
  • It might be helpful to journal your thoughts and discoveries so you can look back at them at a later date
  • Consider sharing your experiences; allow the discoveries of others to cheer and encourage you; do the same for them

PRAYER OF EXAMEN: MONDAY--GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH THE PRAYER

PRESENCE: Begin by settling into a comfortable place and position. Get your feet planted squarely on the ground. Breathe. Remind yourself of the Presence of God. Perhaps ask the Holy Spirit to increase your awareness of God's presence. Stay here for a few moments or minutes. You might find it helpful to focus on a short phrase from scripture, such as, "Be still and know that I am God." Perhaps repeat it a few time.  Do not rust past this step. There may be days when you need to focus all of your time on this step due to the stress of your day. Take the time necessary to settle into and enjoy the presence of God.

GRATITUDE: Think about the past 24 hours; what causes you to be grateful? Look back over the past day and recognize the big and small reasons you have to be thankful. Focus on these things for a few moments, allowing yourself to center on the goodness and generosity of God. Meister Eckhardt wrote, "If the only prayer you prayed was, 'Thank you,' that would be enough."

REVIEW: The idea of "review" is to look back over the past 24 hours and notice the situations and details you have encountered. Remember the words of Psalm 143: "Show me the way I should go...Teach me to do your will, for you are my God." Here are some questions to ask:

  • When and where were you most fully cooperating with the activity of God? Why?
  • When and where were you most resisting? Why?
  • When and where were you most aware of the Presence of God?
  • When and where did you go unaware of God's activity?
  • What personal life patterns and habits do you notice?

RESPONSE: Having spent time remembering, it is natural to want to respond. Write a response in your journal or say a prayer of response. You might need to seek forgiveness, share a concern, ask a question, express gratitude. In a real sense, through your response you are answering these two questions:

  • Beginning today, how do you want to live differently?
  • What patterns and habits do you want to keep living tomorrow?