Examen Prayer - As we begin a new Liturgical Year, it is a good time to renew our practice of prayer. One of the best ways to enter into a deeper awareness of God in our lives is through an Examen Prayer. This prayer comes from St. Ignatius of Loyola and his Spiritual Exercises. I have modified it slightly for our purposes. Follow these simple steps each night before going to bed:
Sit down in silence in your favourite chair, light a candle (optional) and open your spiritual journal (you’ll need to start one in order to keep a record of your thoughts). Spend a few minutes in silence, eyes closed, becoming aware of God’s presence.
Think back through your day and identify your mood during the day. Were you in a good mood or in a bad mood that day Identify your mood, or changes to your mood that day.
Think back to what caused your mood to change that day. Walk through the situation that brought a change. For example: “I was in a bad mood. It all started when the cashier made a rude comment to me in the store.”
Once you’ve identified a cause of your bad mood, ask yourself: “why did I react in this way?” For example: “Why did I become upset after the cashier made a rude comment to me?”
Identify a selfish-desire within you that caused you to end up in a bad mood. Ask yourself: “what do I want?” For example: “I want people to be kind to me, and the cashier should have been kind to me. After all, I am a kind person, I should be treated with kindness!”
Replace your selfish-desire with a God-given desire. Ask yourself: “what should I want? What does God want for me?” For example: “God wants me to offer kindness without expecting anything in return. After all, Jesus was perfect and he too was mistreated. God wants me to have a concern for others, and not just for myself. Perhaps the cashier was going through a difficult time. After all, it’s a hard job and it doesn’t pay very well. God wants me to be more understanding, more merciful”.
Ask the Holy Spirit to replace your imperfect desire with God’s desire for you. For example: “Come Holy Spirit and replace my need for kindness with a desire to offer kindness to others without counting the cost. Help me to give and not to take back.”
Thank God for this time of prayer. Write down a summary of your encounter with God in your spiritual journal. For example: “God revealed to me my selfish desire of wanting to be treated kindly by others, and I prayed for the grace to replace it with a God-given desire to offer kindness without seeking kindness in return.”
Go to bed. You will sleep well, I promise!
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma