More than four hundred years ago Ignatius Loyola, the found of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits), suggested a pattern of prayer that could help people detect God’s presence in the events of each day and to discern God’s direction for the future.
This pattern, traditionally known as “the Examen”, takes about fifteen minutes and is structured as follows:
Remind yourself that you are in the presence of God
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to remember what has happened during the day with clarity and understanding.
Begin to review your day
- Notice the details; the context of what happened; how you acted; your motives; your feelings.
- Focus on the good things: the events or conversations that encouraged, stretched or empowered you.
- Recall those times when you were not at your best.
Pay attention to your emotions
- Ignatius believed that we can detect the presence of the Holy Spirit in the movements of our emotions.
- What did you feel during the day? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?
- God may show you ways in which you fell short. Acknowledge what you are shown, offer it to God, then look deeply for other implications of what occurred. Does a feeling of frustration, for example, mean that God wants you to consider a new direction in some area of your life? Does your concern about a friend mean that you should reach out to that person in some way?
Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to one feature of the day
- It may involve a feeling: positive or negative.
- It might be a significant encounter with another person.
- It ould be a vivid moment of pleasure or peace.
- Perhaps it will be something that seems rather insignificant.
- Consider it; pray about it; and ask God to speak to you through it.
Begin to look towards tomorrow
- Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you consider what might happen.
- How do you feel? Are you apprehensive or full of anticipation?
- Allow your feelings to turn into prayer.
- Seek God’s guidance. Ask Him for help and understanding. Pray for hope, protection or wisdom.