Updated: May 3, 2020
The Examen is a prayer that invites us to seek where God has been in our daily lives. In the Examen, we prayerfully review the events of our day to see where God has been present in our lives and hear God’s call to love and action in our particular circumstances. The Examen also gives us a chance to see how we have responded to God’s call in the past day. In its essence, the Examen asks us to see our lives as a gift from God and asks us to see God’s purpose in the events of our lives. Then, the Examen helps us to understand the movements in our lives so that we can respond to God in the most loving way.
Ignatius recommends praying the Examen at least once a day for about 15 minutes. You can pray the Examen in the morning, afternoon, night, or even on the next day.
The Examen is flexible and adaptable to the person, containing five basic steps:
Gratitude: Give thanks to God for any gifts or graces you’ve received this day;
Guidance: Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in helping you understand where God has been in the past day and how you responded;
Review: Go over your past day prayerfully, paying attention to each person you encountered, each activity undertaken, and how you felt throughout the day (and be gentle with yourself);
Movements: Focus on key movements that arise within you: how did you feel? How were you treated? How did you treat another? What filled you with joy? Anger? Regret? Peace? Turn to God and, speaking as one friend to another, talk about your day and, then, listen to what God has to say to you;
Resolution: Consider what God has said to you and decide how you might respond to God’s call.
There are many ways to pray the Examen, each including the five basic steps. Some may find a written script helpful, others may commit the prayer to memory or may prefer to listen to an audio recording. For many, the Examen is fruitfully done with a journal. We recommend building a consistent habit, however your practice develops.