Prayer of Examen
The Prayer of Examen is a daily spiritual exercise developed by St. Ignatius
Loyola. This practice seeks to grow followers of Jesus in their capacity to discern
God’s will, find God in all things, and enhance their understanding of God’s good
creation. The prayer may take between ten and twenty minutes. The majority of
that time will be spent reviewing your day. Try not to dwell too long on thoughts.
Instead, allow yourself to become aware and move on.
Begin by finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
Then sit comfortably, with good posture and both feet on the floor. Allow yourself
to relax and close your eyes if you like.
1. Recall you are in the presence of God
As you sit in silence, focus on God’s deep and abiding love for you. We are
always in the presence of God. Try to become aware of God’s presence in
an attentive way. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recall your day with love.
2. Recall your day with gratitude
After a few moments, remember the small pleasures of your day; things
like a good night’s sleep, a good conversation, or a beautiful sunset. These
are all gifts from God. As you remember these small gifts from God, take
a moment to reflect on the gifts that you gave today, whether to God or to
others. How did you bring your strengths, your sense of humor, your
abilities, your encouragement, your patience to others today? When you
have finished, pause briefly and thank God for these things.
3. Ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit
In a moment you will begin to retrace the steps of your day. Before you do,
ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your mind. The Spirit will lead and
guide you into the truth and mystery of your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit for
the capacity to recall your day with clarity and an understanding of your
4. Review your day
This is the central and longest step of the prayer. Go back to the start of
your day and allow it to play like a short movie in your mind. Pay attention
to the details. What were your feelings? What motivated you to respond to
certain situations in the way that you did? The purpose of this is to draw
out the positive and the negative aspects of your day.
As you are reviewing your day, ask the question, “Where did I fail today?”
Was there a moment when you lived out of anger or bitterness? Were there
things that you avoided? Don’t allow yourself to dwell on these things or
seek to resolve them. Simply allow yourself to identify them and move on.
Next, ask the question, “When did I love?” Was there a moment, or several
moments, in which you made the choice to live out of love. Perhaps it was
a kind act like holding the door or spending intentional time with your
family. Remember the ways that you chose to love this day.
Next, search for any patterns or habits during the course of the day. Do
you make coffee at the same time? Do you chat for a few minutes with a
co-worker? Are you always staying late at work? As you detect these
patterns, what emotions do you sense coming to the surface for each
habit? Do these habits help you face your day with love? Do they hinder you
from facing your day with love?
5. Reconcile and Resolve
Finally, picture yourself seated next to Jesus, talking as you would with a
friend. Maybe there was something in your day that you don’t feel good
about. Tell Jesus about this and express your disappointment and ask him
to be with you when you face that moment again. Allow yourself to feel the
sorrow in your heart as you share this, but also remember and give thanks
for Christ’s continual restoration of your heart. Remember all of the good
moments of your day and thank Jesus for His presence with you in those
6. End with the Lord’s Prayer
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. your kingdom
come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily
bread. Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. And lead us
not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Amen