The Examen: Praying the Examen as a Family

January 14, 2019

We continue our series exploring the Examen.  This week, we take a look at bringing this prayer tool into marriage and family life.

Praying the Examen with Young Children:  

The Examen is a permanent prayer tool  in my own prayer tool box, and it is one we turn to within our family also.   We use this Examen format taught to me by a Lutheran friend and mom a few years ago often:

  1. One person names the highs and lows of his/her day.
  2. After that person names the highs and lows of the day, another person in the family says a prayer for that person, thanking God for the highs and asking God to help that person with the lows.
  3. Every family member gets a turn to share the highs and lows of the day, and every family member gets a turn to say a prayer for another person.
  4. Close with an Our Father or other prayer.

This format invites younger children to begin to name the movements of the Examen, which as adults we would name as the discernment of Spirits.  It helps young children begin to name where they experience the Holy Spirit at work in their lives, and where they experiences the tug of the spirit not of God in their lives.

Praying the Examen with Middle School Age Children and Up:

Middle school is a great age to introduce children to the five full steps of the Examen.  This past year, my son’s sixth grade religion class learned how to pray a full daily Examen.  Their teacher had them journal their responses to the five steps of the Examen in order to get them accustomed to praying this way. Watch for a guest post later in our series specifically on praying the Examen with teens.

The gift of the Examen in marriage:

The Examen guides many decisions in our marriage.   Chris and I use the Examen to check-in and name movements in our personal lives, in our marriage, and in our family.  Sometimes, this happens by us each individually praying an Examen as part of our own prayer time and then we dialogue about our responses.  Other times, we walk through the steps of the Examen together in prayer.  Naming a loud what we are thankful for, where we felt God’s presence, where we are struggling, and what graces we are seeking for the future.

What about you?  How do you incorporate the Examen in your family life?  I would LOVE to hear your input!

Go Deeper?

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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