Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to footer

The Examen

In his book ‘Soul Keeping’ John Ortberg shares a story a friend told him about being on a mission trip, and how they were driving for hours to get to a key location for the next portion of the trip. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, their drivers (hired locals from the country) stopped the vehicles, turned off the engines, and just sat there. They had been making great time, there were still hours of daylight, there was no mechanical issue or engine failure- they just simply stopped driving. And when the passengers asked them what was wrong, they told them that they had been going too fast a pace for their souls, so they had to stop and wait for their souls to catch up.

The prayer of examen is a time of prayerful reflection where you think over the events of the day or week in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction. It gives your soul the space to catch up. The examen finds its roots in Ignation spirituality. St Ignatius wanted this practice to be shared as widely as possible and it became one of the very few expectations he placed on the Jesuit order – the requirement that they practice the examen daily.

The most widely used and accessible version of the prayer St Ignatius practiced is composed of the following. 

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

2. Review the day or week with gratitude. 

3. Pay attention to your emotions.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

5. Look toward tomorrow.

Here is how we approach this in our home.
We complete the Examen on a Sunday at the end of the week.

Preparation

Firstly, we light a candle and then we say an opening prayer. We searched for ages to find an examen preparation prayer and after a long time of searching we decided to write our own.

Dear Father,

We thank you for the week that is coming to an end,
for all the things we have done and everything we have learned.
Lord, we thank you that you were with us in every experience. 

As we quieten our hearts before you, we ask you would help us to recognise your
presence in the people, places and activities of the past week.
Help us to know our hearts and grant us grace to turn again to you. 

Father, we don’t always understand our thoughts and emotions in the moment
and we need not see all that lies ahead.
But show us enough to take the steps that you would have us take this day.


Amen 

Examen

We then take some time to sit in silence, welcoming God’s presence, before
reflecting on the past week. We reflect on the different aspects of our lives and make notes on what has struck us this week and where we have seen God. We record these reflections alongside any actions we need to take in light of what the Spirit has revealed. We look at our spiritual, physical and mental health, and our work, home life and relationships. 

Closing

We end our time with this prayer.

Father,

You have promised to never leave us or forsake us.
We thank you that we are your children, made in your likeness.
Help us to grow into the full image of Christ you would have us be.

Lord of creation, who by your wisdom order all things aright,
create in us a rhythm of life that sustains us and blesses those around us.


Amen  

Printable Examen Template

Below you can find a template to help you with this practice including some questions to help prompt your reflections.

Electronic Examen Template

Below you can find a template to help you with this practice including some questions to help prompt your reflections.
You can use this on any e-reader which allows the use of interactive PDFs.