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Prayer of Examen


Monday was orientation for me (and JohnO) at Boston University. It was a long day starting at 8:30 am and not ending until 4:30 pm. At the end of the day one of the facilitators led us in the prayer of examen. This prayer was made popular by Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits in the 16th century). The prayer of examen is simply a way of reviewing your day and offering God thanks, confession, or petitions as you feel led. I had first come across this prayer technique when I went to Rob Bell’s impressive website (Rob Bell is the pastor of a large church in Grand Rapids, MI, called Mars Hill). Here is a link to the description that he put together. For the upcoming Royal Family Reunion I’ll be leading a workshop called prayer and meditation during which I will be introducing people to this particular prayer along with some others. In light of that I recently put together the following instructions:

    Reviewing Your Day

  1. Bring yourself to a place of peace (focus your mind on God’s presence)
  2. In your mind run the tape of the last day’s events and give God thanks when possible (1 minute)
  3. Now go back through it again, slowly, and allow yourself to pause on the parts of the day that you are drawn to.
    Questions to Consider

  1. When were you most doing God’s will (in the zone)?
  2. When were you most at cross-purposes with God’s will? Why?
  3. How could you have done the last day better?
  4. What specific things can you change now so that you will do better in the next 24 hours?
    Action Questions

  1. Do you need to throw something out?
  2. Do you need to buy something?
  3. Do you need to call someone?
  4. Do you need to go to bed earlier? Set your alarm earlier?
  5. Do you need to seek counseling with a Christian brother or sister?
  6. Do you need to confront someone or confess to someone?
    End in Prayer

  1. Ask God to help you to not fall into sin nor be overcome by adversity but instead fulfill his purpose.

Have any of you heard of the prayer of examen before? Is this something you think would help to slow you down to be more aware of God’s involvement in your day? Do you already pray in a way similar to this?

One Response to “Prayer of Examen”

  1. on 07 Sep 2009 at 1:43 pmKen

    Congratulations on your new endeavor!
    I had not heard of this before. I suppose that I am surprised by its source (not having read this about Loyola.)
    The prayer format with targeted areas of reflection seems like a specific way to pray,”Search me, O Yahweh, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23, 24.) Any strategy we can use to avoid being flippant or hasty before God in prayer will be an asset to true prayer from the heart. It seems that this would help ensure that confessing sins from day to day not be merely a general routine without enough detailed focus. Thanks for sharing this.
    God bless you. Ken


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