The Daily Examen

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The spiritual practice of the daily examen has 16th century origins in Ignatius of Loyola yet offers a framework for prayer that continues to resonate even more than 500 years later.  The focus of the daily examen is on finding God’s presence in your life so that you can be grateful and so that you can listen for His guidance.

There is no designated way to go through the prayer or even length of time needed to complete it; in fact, just 10 minutes should be enough time.  In the approach outlined below, the daily examen is practiced at the end of the day.candlelight

  1. Prepare your heart and mind. Center yourself by lighting a candle or taking a few deep breaths.  Allow yourself to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Review the day with gratitude.  Think back through the events of your day, noting the joys and delights.  Think about the people you interacted with and what you shared with each other.  Don’t forget the little pleasures!  Then, thank God for these experiences.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions.  Notice the points in your day where you felt strongly. What is God telling you through your feelings?  Feelings of frustration may indicate that you need to change course on a certain project.  Feelings of worry about a friend’s situation might later prompt you to send a comforting note.
  4. Select a part of your day to pray over.  What one part of your day stands out most to you?  It can be positive or negative.  Lift up a prayer of gratitude, intercession, repentance, whatever the case may be.
  5. Pray for tomorrow.  Ask God to guide you through tomorrow’s challenges.  Turn your anxieties over to God and pray for hope.

A simple prayer card listing the steps of the examen can be found here.  Other approaches to praying the examen can be found at Ignatian Spirituality (from Loyola Press) and Alive Now.

-Katie Huffman

Photo from Pixabay user foulline, via CC.

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About Katie Huffman

Katie is a Wellness Advocate with the Clergy Health Initiative. She has an undergraduate degree in History and French and a Masters degree in Gerontology; prior to her current position, Katie worked as a social worker in a retirement community in Chapel Hill. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors, baking, and hanging out with her husband, Noah, their daughter, Ada, and two kitties, Grady and Gracie.

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