Praying the Examen is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. St. Ignatius of Loyola popularized this method of prayer. The Examen is similar to an examination of conscience, but there a few added pieces- the Examen gives you an overall picture of the day and helps you to see God’s presence in each moment. It can also assist you in periods of discernment. I wholly recommend this method of prayer.
So, how does one pray the Examen? First, find a quiet place. Be still. Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide your time of prayer. Review your day. If you are a writer, you may want to journal your thoughts as they come. What brought you joy? Give thanks to God for these blessings. As you continue, think about what brought you frustration. How was God with you during that time and also during the joyful moments? If you’re feeling empty of God’s presence, ask Him to reveal moments where He was with you. Maybe you didn’t clearly discern the presence of God throughout the day but looking back you are able to see moments where Christ was clearly with you. As you reflect upon the day, faults and failings will come to mind. Ask forgiveness for the times that you sinned. Accept the tender mercy of God and pray for the grace to do better tomorrow. Close with a prayer such as an Our Father or Glory Be.
At one point, I was regularly practicing the Examen at the end of each day. I used a journal to write down the blessings, frustrations, failings, and the ways in which I saw God operating in my daily life. Practicing the Examen helped me to find the joy woven into the many frustrations during a difficult period of my life. I was able to pinpoint certain “themes”. These recurring joys assisted me in figuring out more of what makes me tick and they also helped me to see beyond the frustrations. Praying the Examen helped me to figure out what kinds of steps I should take for the next portion of my journey. If you are at a point where you are encountering many disappointments or hoping to make changes, this can be a great prayer as it is a great discernment tool. Praying the Examen can bring peace and it helps to re-orient oneself each night and prepare for the next day.
The Examen is a great way to reflect upon the ways in which God is working in your life. This method of prayer allows you to see the blessings present in your daily life and also to recognize where you can do better. It is a prayerful way to end a day and to ponder how to walk more in the light during the next one. I hope that you can also find peace through this prayer and walk more closely with God as you recognize more clearly His hand in your daily life.