During this transition period it’s been important to cherish the present and not get too caught up in the past or future. I’ve been putting rhythms into my life to help me to be aware of the moment. I’ve started an Instagram account to encourage me to savour daily life and I use a backwards prayer at the end of the day to reflect on what has happened.
Backwards prayer is also known as Examen prayer.
“The examen helps you to “realise” the presence of God. For me, it transcends any proofs for the existence of God by asking you to notice where God already exists in your life, where your yesterdays were beautiful. With that awareness you will begin to notice God’s presence more and more in your day.” – James Martin, Sr ‘The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything’
St Ignatius of Loyola popularised this type of prayer to help people find God in their daily lives. Our days can fly by, leaving us wondering where the time has gone and what we have achieved. It can be easy to miss the divine presence but upon reflection we are able to see God’s fingerprints. Taking ten minutes to do an Examen allows us to reflect back through the last 24 hours.
This type of prayer is useful even if you are not intentionally connecting to God as it allows you to be aware of yourself and how you acted in your day.
There are various ways to walk through the Examen but I do it like this:
Start by reflecting back through the day with a heart of gratitude. What moments are you grateful for? Maybe you had some good news, or a great conversation with a friend, or a really tasty lunch. It is important for our brains to savour the positive rather than dwell on the negative.
Next, think about how you went out of tune with who you are and with God. Those moments that you regret; when you said an unkind word, you behaved inappropriately or you didn’t help a person in need. Ask forgiveness from God and from yourself for the times when you weren’t being who you were made to be. Maybe you’ll also realise that you need to reconcile with someone else. Being aware of when and how we slip up allows us to grow and develop into more loving, compassionate and humble beings.
Finally think back through the day like you are watching a movie. Notice your feelings, your conversations, the flavours of food, the smells, and the sights. Be aware of what happened.
I challenge you to give backwards prayer a shot. Try it over a couple of weeks and I hope it will become beneficial for you. May we all become more present in our everyday life.