The Examen prayer

The Examen

The Examen is a simple prayer method in which you look back over your day. It helps you notice how God is drawing you toward him, and what draws you away from him. This information enables you to spend as much of your future days with God as possible.

The Examen has five steps—given below—which should take you no longer than fifteen minutes.

The method of the Examen prayer
Step 1: Rest

Take a little time to settle down and rest in God’s presence. He is with you right now.

Step 2: Gratitude

Thank God for the gifts of the day. Don’t restrict yourself to the big things like family, employment or a roof over your head. You may just be thankful for the smile of a stranger.

Step 3: Look back over today

Replay the day in your mind. Ask God to highlight the moments that he would like you to notice.

  • What stands out?
  • Did a desire arise?
  • What drew you? What repelled you?
  • What feelings and emotions arose during the day? Which was the strongest?
  • What thoughts came to mind? Which was the most prevalent?
  • Was there a movement toward God or away from him?
  • Was there an increase in faith, hope or love?

Step 4: Speak to God

Pick the most significant event from step 3.

  • Was the event life-giving or life draining?
  • Did it move you toward God or away from him?
  • How did you respond to the event? Were you gracious, kind, grateful, selfless, accepting, or non-judgemental? Or the opposite?
  • Did you respond and act in a way you liked?
  • Did you respond and act in a way God liked?

Speak to God—as to a friend—about it.

Step 5: Look forward to tomorrow

What did the Examen highlight?

  • Are there any changes you need to make? Is there something you need to do more? Is there something you need to do less?
  • Do you feel God is leading you in some direction? If so, how can you respond to him?

Look ahead to the day to come. How can you orient your day more toward God? Decide what concrete actions you can take, and do them, in the day to come.