God is always present with us. He is always shaping us and forming us. A vital spiritual practice is to notice these realities. How is He present with me? How is He at work around me? How might I more fully participate in His work in my life and in the world around me? As we practice a Daily Examen (first designed by St Ignatius), we are able to put our lives into context. And, we are learning to do this in the moment during our day. The idea is to set aside a period of time each day (at least once but it could be midday and then in the evening) for this kind of prayer. And, the Examen can also be practiced for any time frame (weekly, monthly, annually) or a particular event …
Here is a pattern of prayer for an Examen:
1. Become aware of God’s presence. Sit in quiet for a few minutes and remind yourself of His presence and love for you. Review the events of the day prayerfully. Ask God to bring to your awareness the ways in which He was present with you.
2. Review the day with gratitude. Walk through your day with God and notice the place in which you experiencing joy. What made your soul glad as you consider the day? What gifts did the day bring? Pay attention to the events, the people, the circumstances – what do you see? What details seem important now that you are reflecting on the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions. What did you feel today? Joy? Anger? Sadness? Fear? Loneliness? Frustration? All the emotions are gifts from God to help us see the nature of our souls and how we are responding to the world around us. What might these various emotions tell you about your life? What are in the invitations that these emotions bring forward? How did you fall short in the way that you engaged the emotions during the day?
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask God to show you something from the day that is significant. Pray about that feature of your day – praise, repentance, intercession – whatever arises from your spirit as you interact with God.
5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you insight into the coming day. What might He want you to see? What challenges lie ahead? What gifts might you experience in the coming day? Ask Him for strength and wisdom and grace to enter into the next day.
Finally, take a few minutes and sit with the Lord, enjoying His presence and love in your life. As thoughts come to you, gently lay them at His feet – entrusting your life to Him.