Prayer of Examen

The Prayer of Examen is a daily spiritual exercise credited to Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), who encouraged fellow believers to engage in the practice for developing a deeper level of spiritual sensitivity and for recognizing and receiving the active presence of the Holy Spirit. At the heart of the practice is the desire to become increasingly aware of God’s presence and the Holy Spirit’s movement throughout our day.

The Daily Examen becomes a prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his commitment to us and direction for us.  The Examen is a practice for the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.

Ignatius thought that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible. One of the few conventions of prayer that Ignatius made for the Jesuit order was a requirement that Jesuits practice the Examen twice daily—at noon and at the end of the day. It’s a habit that Jesuits, and many other Christians, practice to this day.

This is a simple version of the five-stage Daily Examen that Ignatius practiced:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence. (This is referred to in contemplative literature as “stilling,” and means to take the opportunity to dial down and become attentive to God’s presence.)
  2. Review the day with gratitude.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions.
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
  5. Look toward tomorrow.

“Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. All I have and call my own. Whatever I have or hold, you have given me. I restore it all to you and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and grace and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.”  — Ignatius of Loyola

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