The Examen: Nightly Prayer
This practice comes from Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius was a Spanish priest who founded the order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); he is remembered as a talented spiritual director. He recorded his approach to the spiritual life in a treatise called the Spiritual Exercises. The goal of this practice is to become intentional about finding God in all things. The heart of this practice is, again, reviewing your day and seeking to notice what God is doing. It is important to notice what made you happy, stressed, confused, etc. as well as what helped you become more loving. The idea is that we find God’s unfolding plan for us even in the mundane parts of our life. Ignatius was emphatic about the practice of the Examen. He even went as far as to say that if, for some reason, we did no other spiritual exercise, we should do this one. It is a spiritual tool for planting the seeds for a more purposeful life.
Here are five simple steps for the practice:
Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you
Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
Review your day- recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
Look toward tomorrow-think of how you might be more intentional about enacting God’s will. Be specific, and conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.