Introduction. This week we are practicing the prayer of examen. “Examen” means an examination of the conscience and was first written about as a spiritual practice by Ignatius of Loyola. The prayer of examen, as Father Michael Sparough taught us, is asking God to reveal to us the truth of our lives and then guide us in his grace to move forward.
Prayer of Examen
Find 15 minutes in your day and review the last 24 hours using the prayer of examen. Here is one way to engage in the practice:
Invite the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Position your body in a posture of attentiveness, but not rigidity – feet flat on the floor, sitting up straight so you can breathe freely. Take three deep breaths, breathing in God’s blessing and breathing out all that is not of God (your fear, your anxiety, your anger). Pray this simple prayer, “In your grace, Lord, I want to see the truth of my life through your eyes. Please reveal it to me.” Breathe in God’s blessing and breathe out all that is not of God.
Review the day with thanksgiving. Once you have invited the Holy Spirit’s guidance, name the blessings for which you are thankful in the last 24 hours. As you do this, remember, this is not a time to “count your blessings,” but rather a time to savor your blessings. As you savor your blessings, picture Jesus before you, smiling and delighting in you.
Review the feelings that surface. Now ask yourself what feelings surfaced throughout the last 24 hours. Did you feel frustrated? Ashamed? Disappointed? Excited? Joyful? Pained? Name the negative and positive feelings.
Choose one or two feelings and pray from it. Choose a negative feeling and a positive feeling and simply talk to God about those feelings. Then listen to him. As you do this, go ahead and let God surprise you. Behold Jesus beholding you as you present your feelings to him.
Look forward to tomorrow. Now, look forward. Tomorrow is a new day and God’s mercies are new each morning. Ask yourself what you learned today in your prayer of examen and then end your time by asking God for the grace you need to move forward tomorrow.
Books: A Simple, Life Changing Prayer: Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Examen, by Jim Manney.
Spiritual Exercises, by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Article: Rummaging for God, Praying Backwards Through Your Day, by Dennis Hamm, SJ.
Audio: Pray as you go, Examen.