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The Prayer of Examen

St. Ignatious Loyola Recommended to his brothers a daily method of examining their lives so that they might better serve the lord. Continue reading for a meditative prayer to end your day.

ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA (1491-1556), FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS, WAS A VERY PRACTICAL MAN WHEN IT CAME TO PRAYER. HE RECOMMENDED TO HIS BROTHERS A DAILY METHOD OF EXAMINING THEIR LIVES SO THAT THEY MIGHT BETTER SERVE THE LORD. ST. IGNATIUS TAUGHT THAT THE KEY TO A HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY WAS TWOFOLD: FIND GOD IN ALL THINGS AND CONSTANTLY WORK TO GAIN FREEDOM TO COOPERATE WITH GOD’S WILL. ST. IGNATIUS PROPOSED A DAILY EXERCISE, WHICH HE CALLED THE EXAMEN, THAT HAS BEEN USED BY MANY CHRISTIANS EVER SINCE. BY PRAYING THE EXAMEN TWICE DAILY, COUNTLESS LAYPEOPLE WORLDWIDE HAVE JOINED THE PRACTICE OF JESUITS, OTHER PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS IN HEARING GOD’S VOICE IN THEIR HEARTS. THROUGH THIS DAILY PRACTICE, THEY LEARN TO DISCERN GOD’S WILL AND GROW IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S BEAUTIFUL CREATION. NOW CALLED THE EXAMEN OF CONSCIOUSNESS, IT IS A SIMPLE PRACTICE THAT ANYONE CAN LEARN AND BENEFIT FROM.
THANK YOU TO  PHYLLIS ZAGANO OF WWW.AMERICANCATHOLIC.ORG FOR THE ABOVE INFORMATIONThis is a sample Prayer of Examen that I have developed from many sources,please adapt to your own use.

1)    Center yourself in the presence of God

 In God we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

Place yourself in the presence of God the Creator, the Sustainer, and the
Redeemer. Or if you are more comfortable use God the Father, God the
Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ. Acknowledge God’s presence surrounding you
simply be in that presence for a little while.

2)    Look over the last 24 hours with Gratitude

And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord—.The Almighty One has done great things for me.(Lk 1:46, 49)

Slowly give yourself time to think over the last day and then go over anything that comes to mind that you are grateful for. Name things in your head or out loud if you are alone and reflect slowly.

This is also an opportunity to jot things down in a gratitude journal if that appeals to you.

3)    Think about the love of God, others and yourself.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)

How have you felt God’s love over the past day? How have you felt love from the people in your life? How have you expressed love to the people you love? Were there times when you felt unloved? Isolated? Shunned? Could you have sought God’s love during those moments? Give yourself time to go over each aspect of the question.

4)    Review your thoughts and actions throughout the day.

Test yourselves to see whether you are living in faith; examine yourselves. Perhaps you yourselves do not realize that Christ Jesus is in you.(2 Cor 13:5)

As you look through the day, notice especially your interior motives and feelings. You are here looking for signs of those things that cause you to act with less than perfect freedom. Were there times when you failed to act as you would have wished? Are there confessions you need to bring to Christ and ask for forgiveness for? Did you have the opportunity to be an example of Christ’s love for another? Do not only concentrate on the negative.

5)    What is your prayer for the day?

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom 8:26)

Is your prayer for today one of confession? Praise? Thanksgiving? Petition? Intercession? Is it a combination of these themes? Spend some time pouring your heart out to God; unburden yourself in the arms of your Savior.

6)    Listen

Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. (Ps 4:4b)

Relax your muscles one by one and feel yourself breathing and listen for God just be still and let God permeate your being. When your mind wanders just simply go back to paying attention to your breathing in and breathing out.

Close with the Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil,
for thine is the kingdom
and the power, and the glory, forever.
Amen.  Special Thanks to Amy Sandlin for introducing me to this practice.

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