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The Prayer of Examen

Spiritual Disciplines | by David Smith

    Tell me if you can relate to this: it’s a Tuesday; you get up, go to work or school, go about your daily life and responsibilities, and as you get into your bed at night you realize that you haven’t had one thought about God all day! You realize that you went through an entire day and were barely aware of God’s presence in your life. This is something that I have found to happen all too often in my own life. I get so consumed with having my mind set on things that are on earth, rather than things that are above (Colossians 3:2). Thankfully, God has given us so many different ways that we can become more aware of his presence in our daily life. One of these ways (or disciplines) is called the Prayer of Examen.

    Author and Pastor Peter Scazzero in his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, gives a wonderfully simplified version of the Prayer of Examen:

    “A classic spiritual practice developed by Ignatius Loyola (1491– 1556) is called the ‘Prayer of Examen.’ It is a prayerful reflection of your experience with Jesus over a specific time period. The goal is simple: increased awareness and attentiveness to the presence of God in your daily life. While it is normally done at the end of each day, it can be prayed at any time. Get in a comfortable position and still yourself. Recall you are in the presence of God, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide you as you review the events of your day. Walk through the events in your day (or yesterday’s events if it is morning). Imagine yourself watching your day on a fast-forwarded DVD with Jesus. Let Jesus stop the DVD at any part of the day so you might reflect on it. Notice those times when you were aware of God’s presence, when you felt you were moving toward God. How did you feel when you were open and responsive to God’s guidance? Give God thanks for those times. Notice the times you were not aware of God’s presence, when you felt you were moving away from God. What was blocking that awareness? Pray for forgiveness or healing, as appropriate, for those times. End with prayer for grace to be more aware of God’s presence. Close the time with a prayer of thanks for this time with God.”

    (Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature (pp. 211-212).)

    If you’d like to learn more about the Prayer of Examen, I'd recommend checking out these resources:

    Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

    Websites by Loyola Press

    May this Prayer of Examen be one of many ways that you more fully experience the presence of God in your daily life. If you have any questions related to the Prayer of Examen, please do not hesitate to seek out one of our pastors at GPBC.