Lent Spiritual Practices: The Daily Examen
When I first heard about the spiritual practice of daily examen I wondered “Why does anyone want to take a test about their faith?” Examen sounded too much like an exam or test. I struggled with the idea of if I am living my life as if I am preparing for a test and each night I take the “examen”, am I not just trying to earn salvation? How does this bring me closer to God? If that’s what the daily examen was then it wouldn’t. But I was wrong. The daily examen is much more than a test.
The daily examen is prayerful practice to help us see how God is at work in our lives. Part of the examen is to reflect on the day- both on things that went well such as success or joys as well as things that did not go well such as painful moments or moments you wish you responded differently. Yet the other aspect of the examen is the daily presence with God. Often our prayers can become a list of what we want or need. God does provide and our relationship with God can be much more than being a vending machine for our prayers. As we routinely take time to recognize God’s presence we deepen our relationship with God. We begin to see how God’s love for us is not dependent on our success or held back in our failures. We see how God is already acting all around us and we become more open to joining in the joy, reconciliation, peace and hope of God’s kingdom.
There are many difference ways to pray the examen. Here is the five basic parts:
1. Become aware of God’s presence. 2. Review the day with gratitude. 3. Pay attention to your emotions. 4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. 5. Look toward tomorrow.
Some people pray this in a group and others by themselves. Some use candles or music or other items to add to the experience. Some find a quiet room and other walk in nature. There are many was to practice the daily examen and you can go to www.ignatianspirituality.com to find out more.
Here is an example I found of how to pray the daily examen with a family:
I encourage you to try out the examen sometime this lent. God Bless, Pastor Ryan