There are probably more organised people who do not line their bags or pockets with receipts and lists. As I sort and glance through the miscellany I’m always reminded of the previous days: that was a good swim; I was shopping for dessert to share with friends; I completed all those tasks.
The Prayer of Examen helps us to reflect on our day, as a kind of Backwards Prayer. This debrief at the end of the day helps us to see where God has been present in the everyday. We reflect with gratitude, and look out for the little bits of beauty in our days.
“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’
I often pray the examen, or at least start it, when I’m lying in bed at night. I appreciate the opportunity to reflect back on my day and talk about it with God. Sometimes I fall asleep before I’m finished, considering what I’m grateful for, and that’s just fine. I love that this practice encourages us to be more attentive to our lives, to seek out the gifts of beauty, connection and love in the midst of our chaos. The steps may seem complicated at first, but I’ve found they’ve become a rhythm of their own.
- Become aware of God’s presence.
Hear Him welcome you by name.
- Review the day with gratitude.
Think back through your day and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to see your day as God sees and understands it.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
Look for the life-giving moments. Name them, savour them, how did they reveal God? Then look for the NOT-so-life-giving moments too.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
What are the facts, feelings, impacts, is there anything you might have done differently? Talk with God about it, knowing his compassion.
- Look toward tomorrow.
What does tomorrow hold for you? How do you want to ‘be’ in each situation? Talk to God about it, and now, take your leave of God – as of a friend.
There is a lovely Playlist of Examen Prayers here, including one for use with children, listening to someone else lead you through the prayer can help us to become familiar with it.