Prayer of Examen

Ways to Pray : Lent 2017


Thank you for joining me on this journey through different prayer practices during Lent. This is something you can do on your own, with your family, or even a small group. You can do it as often as is helpful for you – I am suggesting you try the same practice once each day during the week if you are able. I am sending a new “Way to Pray” each Monday morning leading up to Easter.

Prayer of Examen 6-12 March


The Prayer of Examen is one of the spiritual exercises advocated by St Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuit order). As someone who is wired with a somewhat contemplative spirituality, I personally find the Prayer of Examen (and Ignatian Spirituality in general) to be very helpful. Many Christians (and pretty much every spiritual director I have ever worked with) use this simple prayer practice.

In our world of information and activity overload, I believe taking some moments for quiet reflection is critical to our spiritual life, regardless of our particular temperament or devotional preferences. This practice was developed specifically for followers of Jesus with busy lives rather than monastics with countless hours to spend with God. Not much has changed in the past 500 years in this regard…

And what is it exactly?
Questions. Not magic questions, but very good ones. They are intended to allow you to sit with God and think back over the day in some particular ways. You can do this purely by thinking/talking with God, or journaling your reflections. As with all prayer practices, remember this is a tool, not the goal. So don’t feel overly constricted by the specifics when it comes to how long you spend with this or trying to “answer every question.”

You will need

  1. Be still and become aware of God’s presence
  2. Review the day with gratitude (you can use the Examen questions heexamenUse can use the Examen questions here)
  3. Pay attention to your emotions
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it
  5. Look toward tomorrow.
You will probably feel that you can’t make the time to do this. But, DO THIS. The timing is what gets most people. Maybe try doing it in one of the following times:
after you’re done working for the day, but before leaving work;
stop somewhere between work and home for doing this;
do as soon as you are able when getting home from work but before beginning your evening routine;
first thing after dinner or putting kids to bed;
or as a way to ending the day before bed.

As I said, use the questions as a guideline – the image at the top of this post is even slightly different from the other docs I’ve attached here. It’s easy to modify them to suit your needs (just don’t cut out questions because you want to avoid them) or to do with children of various ages. There is also this really cool “lunchtime examen” – takes ten minutes and designed for the middle of your day.

If mindfulness or the thought of slowing down just for a moment in your day sounds appealing, you may love this. And if the mention of “sitting and thinking with God in silence” terrifies you, it just might be a helpful way to grow in your prayer life by giving it a go.

I like the websites (they are also on fb) Ignatian Spirituality and Busted Halo which both have a lot of information and resources like this. This app is pretty amazing and has more versions of the Examen than I have ever seen before. I also recommend the books God of Surprises by Gerard W. Hughes and Paying Attention to God by William A. Barry but you can find a lot out there.

What resources do you use/find helpful? Let me know!

That’s it 🙂 Go give it a try and please send me any feedback or questions. It is especially helpful for me to hear/see what you’ve done with this yourself. You may need a few attempts to get the feel for it or you may not find this particular practice to be one you love or want to add to your ongoing prayer life. Or you may! Either way, may you find yourself connecting with God through this unique  way to pray.


The Ways to Pray series for Lent 2017:

1 March – Praying in Colour
6 March – Prayer of Examen
13 March – Praying in Nature
20 March – Listening Prayer
27 March – Prayer with Song
3 April – Praying through Service
10 April – Kingdom Prayer Pictures


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3 thoughts on “Prayer of Examen

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