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Prayer of Examen

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Examen was developed by Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) as a daily method of prayer that he recommended to his brothers. This exercise is a means of reflecting upon life with God over a specified period of time. Journaling the process can be especially helpful.

This four step exercise takes at least 15 minutes to complete. Before you begin, choose a period of time to reflect upon (last week, month, or year). Find a place where you are not likely to be disrupted. Sit comfortably and still yourself. Read through all steps then begin at Step 1.

Step 1 – Presence

We are always in God’s presence, but in prayer we place ourselves in God’s presence in an especially attentive way. God knows you, loves you, and wants to connect with you (Psalm 139:1-16, Matthew 11:28-30, Isaiah 55:1-3). Be still and know that He is with you.

Step 2 – Gratitude

After a few moments, begin to give thanks to God for the gifts you recall from your chosen period of time. Consider the moments you would want to relive if you could (ex. a good night’s sleep, the smell of morning coffee, the laugh of a child, time with friends, a good meal). Give thanks to God for His presence in the big things and the small.

Step 3 – Review

Here you review the entire time period, watching it like a movie that replays in your mind. Be sure to notice the details, the context of what happened and how you responded. As you look, notice especially your motives and feelings. Examine how conscious you were of God’s presence and actions in your life. Allow God to speak, challenge, and encourage you. To help, you may ask yourself some of the following questions.

When did I feel most alive?
When did I feel most empty?
When did I bless others?
When did I receive blessings
When did I feel connected with God?
When did I feel distant from God?
When did I have the greatest sense of belonging?
When did I feel the greatest sense of isolation?

Step 4 – Response

The final step is a heart-to-heart talk with Jesus.

Here you talk with Jesus about the time you have reviewed. You share your thoughts on your actions, attitudes, feelings and interactions. Confess and ask forgiveness where needed. You may then feel led to seek forgiveness, ask for direction, share a concern, or express gratitude. Resolve to move forward in action where God has directed.

You can finish your time with the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)

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