The Examen: The Flexible Prayer Tool

January 7, 2019

Last week, we prayed an Examen over our year.  This week, we turn to the daily Examen.

What is the Examen?

The Examen is credited to St. Ignatius.  Ignatius’ own life experience taught him the value of reviewing his day with God’s help.  As we talked about in November, the Examen cultivates gratitude.  The Examen helps us not only name God at work in our day, but it also helps us pay attention to where we messed up and did not help bring the fruits of the Spirit into our lives.

The Examen is simply a review of the last twenty four hours of our day.  We bring the last day before God, which means we never run out of material for prayer.

We can pray it anywhere!

Because the Examen requires no prayer material other than the activities of our day and the material of our lives, we can pray the Examen at anytime and anywhere.  This prayer tool goes where we go.

We can walk through the five steps of the Examen in prayer in all kinds of places.  Here are a few real life examples of how people incorporate this daily discipline of reviewing your day with God’s help from my own life or from people I meet for spiritual direction:

  • While taking a bath or shower
  • On a run or walk
  • Driving in a car
  • As part of our normal daily prayer
  • In bed before we fall asleep
  • In the middle of a work day sitting at a desk or on a bench outside

Whenever and wherever God invites you to pause for 10 minutes to pray the Examen, I invite you to make this part of your New Year’s’ Resolutions.  The steps are below, in addition to a guided daily examen as well as a downloadable prayer card.

Steps of Examen:

  1. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you see your day as God sees it.
  2. Be thankful.  Name the gifts of your day, and thank God for them.
  3. Notice God’s presence.  Where did you feel an increase of faith, hope and love?
  4. Notice where you felt what seemed like a lack of God’s presence.  Where did you feel a decrease of faith, hope and love?  Why?
  5. Look to the future. Ask God for the grace you need in the day ahead. Close with an Our Father.

Finding it hard to read and follow the steps? Just press play instead. Click here for a guided examen I created for you.

Download a free printable Examen prayer card.

Go Deeper?

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Cultivating Space for God Together:

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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