The Prayer of Examen, as it comes to us from St Ignatius of Loyola, is essentially a prayer of awareness - a prayer wherein we look back over our day, or a period of time, to become attuned to where God has been and how we have responded to God's action. As we review our day, noting where we have found life and energy, what has moved us to greater faith, hope and love, we learn to make our choices accordingly. Where we note a lack of life and energy, what has decreased our faith, hope and love, we learn to reject those situations or patterns of behaviour. Thus ultimately the Examen is a tool for discernment.
Practised daily, as Ignatius advocates, for a period of around 15 minutes, it is a life changing tool.
There are many ways to pray the Examen, with traditionally five steps:
- Gratitude - begin in a spirit of thankfulness, calling to mind whatever you are grateful for at this moment
- Ask for God's light - we want to see our day as God saw it, through eyes of love and tenderness
- Review the day - just let it unfold, recalling people, places, situations, and our various responses
- Respond to God - where we notice joy or love, for example, we give further thanks; where we notice those things that were less good, we can ask for healing or forgiveness
- Look ahead with hope - knowing that God was with us today, we look to tomorrow confident of God's same love and care