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Kingdom Practice: Prayer of Examen

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Additional Resources

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.

 

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Praveen says:

    WOW…what a way to connect with God. I walked into the room tired and worn out. By the time it was done, I was filled with joy and felt as if I woke up from a nap! Only God can fill a tired soul. Thanks for facilitating this space.

  • Though each week’s Practice gathering has strengthened my focus on Christ during the other 166 hours of my week, last night’s group Examen prayer went beyond strengthening the habits of my faith to allowing God to nurture me. I tend toward the activist, though have a strong contemplative streak as well. I’ve engaged in examen work before, but never guided by such a gracious, humble and wise facilitator as Fr. Sparough. Thank you so much for sharing him with the group.

    And thank you, Practice team, for doing what you’re doing to lead us deeper and higher with God.

    • Aaron Niequist says:

      Thanks, Michelle. Same with me! I’ve prayed the Examen before, but something really holy happened on Sunday night. Father Michael did such an incredible job creating holy space and then getting out of the way. And then, as God always does, God met us in the space. Praise be to God! See you next week.
      Aaron

  • Jacob says:

    Two days in and I am not sure if I have ever felt more peace in my prayer time. I work in a fairly toxic environment where the temptation to succumb to negative relational practices is both ubiquitous and justifiable by most standards. Yet, daily I leave work feeling dirty and disconnected from the calling of peacemaker. I do not feel blessed. I intentionally have set aside time mid morning, before my interactions with faculty, where I disappear into a quiet room and work through the prayer of examen. It has been so effective in centering me in the loving companionship of the living Jesus. So much so, that I find myself after especially egregious offenses that I strongly desire to complain about or rage against, my base desire is to find people to talk to before my prayer time so that all my righteous rages against perceived injustices have a chance to vent before I recenter and am rebound to love.

    I’m so grateful for this tool and the way that in just 48 hours I have felt more deeply the love of jesus.

    • Aaron Niequist says:

      jacob, thrilled to hear it! Isn’t it beautiful that The Almighty God wants to pour grace, peace, and blessing into any moment that we invite God into? Praise be to God! And as God fills you up at work, I can’t wait to see how He might use you to overflow that blessing onto someone else. It’s the Kingdom at work. SO glad that you’re a part of this tribe. See you Sunday…
      aaron

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