Today is St. Ignatius’ feast day! So let me teach you about a practice of prayer that he invented.
The Examen is a prayer formula that you can pray anytime and anywhere. If practiced daily, you will begin to pray it without even thinking throughout your day. It trains you to be aware of God’s constant loving presence and movement in your life.
There are apps and online videos that you can use as you are getting started. Most prefer to do it at the same time each day–first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, on the commute home from work, or at night just before bed. Some prefer to use a journal to write down each step. Try a couple different times of day or ways to practice it before deciding on the one that is best for you.
A Brief History:
The Examen prayer was created St. Ignatius in the 16th century. After becoming bed-ridden from an injury during a battle, Ignatius had a major life conversion. When he was well again, he went on a physical and spiritual journey that led him to create the Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius motto was “Finding God in all things” and the Examen helps you to do that. He considered the Examen the most important prayer and believed that it was a gift from God to be spread widely. Read more about St. Ignatius’ story here.
Basic How-To Steps:
1.Become aware of the presence of God with you in this moment right now. Invite in the Holy Spirit to guide you as you look back over your day.
2. Give thanks for your day and reflect on your blessings. Look back on the people, activities, and experiences with gratitude.
3. Look back again on your day, noticing what emotions or situations surface for you to examine. Take time to savor the good memories. Reflect on those you struggled with and ask for healing.
4. Choose one memory from the day and ask the Holy Spirit what this emotion or experience was teaching you. Pray about it from your heart.
5. Look forward to tomorrow with hope
and ask for God’s help in the day ahead.
Click on the 5 minute video below for a brief description of each step.
If you are an extrovert, need accountability in your prayer life, or you would like step by step guidance, then sign up for an Examen Prayer Group. We meet once a week for a month to practice different styles and formats of this prayer. It’s like a sample platter and you get to share it with others!