The Prayer of Examen

The Prayer of Examen

John Haralson   •   March 1, 2017

The Prayer of Examen

This post is part of a series on becoming a people of prayer. During the season of Lent, the leadership at Grace is inviting our congregation into committing to morning and evening prayer using the prayer book Seeking God’s Face and the Prayer of Examen. 

Return to me, for I have redeemed you.
God, Isaiah 44:22

The Examen is a way of praying developed by Ignatius, a 16th century Spanish priest and theologian. At the end of a day, the Examen is a very practical way to enter into the presence of God in prayer, and ask:
          What just happened?

All too often, we collapse into bed at the end of a long day without really being present during the day or processing things at the end of the day. The Examen gives us a great way to do this. Praying the Examen on a regular basis can help you become more aware of God’s presence in your daily life and become more aware of what is going on inside your own heart. More often than not, we are strangers to our own hearts, and the Examen gives us a helpful way to combat this tendency.

There are many different forms of the Examen. Below, I have written a general guide to praying the Examen that has been adapted from the Diocese of Austin and The Prodigal Father websites. There are also other resources at the end of this message that have different versions. 

If you are just beginning to pray the Examen, take 5-10 minutes to pray through the whole prayer. As you progress, spend longer times in prayer. Don’t turn it into a contest to see how long you can pray, just know that God delights in spending time with you and learning how to walk with him.

A form for the Examen

Transition into Prayer.
Become aware of the love with which God looks upon you as you begin this time of prayer. 

Step One:  Gratitude. 
Note the gifts that God’s love has given you this day. Thank God for the all of the good things that have happened and all of the gifts you have received. 

Step Two: Ask for light. 
Ask God for the light of the Holy Spirit to illumine your memory, for insight into your day, and a strength that will make this time a work of grace, fruitful beyond your human capacity alone. 

Step Three: Review. 
With God, review the previous day. Replay the day in your mind. When were you moving towards God? When was your heart stirred? When were you moving away from God? Be still in his presence as you consider the past 24 hours.

Step Four: Forgiveness.  
Ask God to forgive you for your sins of the past day, knowing that he is a Father who loves you and cleanses you of all unrighteousness.

Step Five: Renewal. 
Look to the following day and, with God, plan concretely how to live in accord with God’s loving desire for your life. Ask God for help to walk in the ways he has laid out for you in the upcoming day. 

Take a moment to enjoy this time with God, and now begin to look forward with hopeful and joyful anticipation to the next day God has for you. Trust that God is with you in all that you do and that you can truly find God in all things.

Additional Resources:
There are many different websites and apps you can use. “Pray-as-you-Go” has several versions of the Examen on it. And, The “Prodigal Father” has a version of it as well.