“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
The Prayer of Examen is a way to reflect and contemplate your day. It has been practiced by Christians for over 500 years. Ignatius of Loyola is credited with introducing this prayer as well as others (see Ignatian Contemplation as well). It can be practiced in the car, on a walk, or sitting in a comfy chair, anywhere really.
There are multiple steps to the prayer.
1. In a reflective space, invite God into this moment. Quiet your mind and “turn off” the voices that you hear in your head. Create room to listen.
2. Review your day like a movie. Let the scenes from the past 24 hours wash over you. Ask God to show you times of gratitude and peace that were given to you. Sit in those moments, not trying to do anything but watch them again. After you have seen them, give thanks to God while holding them in the front of your mind. This is not a spoken or wordy prayer, it is a watching and listening prayer, so try not to fill the space you’ve created with words.
3. After you have reviewed the moments of your day that were filled with gratitude, look at the moments that were desolate, pain-ridden, anger-filled and impatient. Review those with the same mind, try not to reason them away, but holding them with God-given grace and do not judge yourself.
The point is to bring these to God so that the Spirit can hold them with you and realize you are not alone in them. Do not try to fix them or beg for forgiveness and move on. Ask the Spirit to meet you in these moments that you are seeing in your day and walk beside you. Let the compassion and grace wash over you.
4. The next step is to look at your day as a whole and ask questions of yourself:
When did I feel most alive?
When did I feel love today?
Where did the Spirit move in my life?
Where did I feel alone?
What patterns did I follow?
Did I dream big today? About what?
When did I not feel whole?
What did I do that did not make me feel good?
When did I feel like I belonged?
When did I feel most creative?
Sit with one or all of these questions, allowing the Spirit to meet you in each moment.
5. The final step is the reconcilation of your day. Ask God for word or vision to walk away from this time with. It is a gift that is given to you from your safe space. Some people use this time as a heart to heart talk with Jesus, but don’t feel like you need to talk. Listen for God to deliver a soft message to your heart.
You can end your time with the Lord’s prayer, a verse that stood out to you, a simple Amen or a poem that is personal to you.
I recommend art journaling or doing something to process your time spent in the Prayer of Examen.