Pray for Light with the Examen

From Ashes to Glory - Pray for LightThis post is a part of the Lenten series “From Ashes to Glory.”

In the second step of the Examen, we ask for light. Our minds are limited in what we can grasp, and our memories are limited in what we can retain. We can easily forget or misremember what we did, felt, and thought—especially something that we want to forget. So we need His light if we are to grow in God’s service.

When we ask God for light, we are asking to know as God knows: good, bad, up, down, all of it. A good prayer is to ask the Father to let me know myself the way the Holy Spirit knows me, “for the Spirit searches the depths of everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

God does everything to bring us light. In our turn, each of us must get ready to accept God’s illumination. One important way to get ready for God’s light is to pray to be unafraid of what we see.

We can ask God to shed light on our routines and habits. Is a good habit growing stronger? Is a certain habit more harmful than I admit? We need our usual ways of doing things. Without routines we’d take all day just to have breakfast. At the same time, almost any habit can either enable our freedom or impede our freedom. We have to watch.

And habits can turn into harmful attachments. We can hold on to things or ideas so tightly that we are no longer really free. So we beg God for light to see when an attachment is leading us to sin. God sees it for what it is; we ask to share that insight.

Finally, when we ask for light, we need to be ready to accept what God gives us.

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Joseph Tetlow, SJ
Joseph Tetlow, SJ, has spent his life sharing the message of Ignatian spirituality. His books Choosing Christ in the World and Always Discerning are considered classics of modern spirituality. Fr. Tetlow continues lecturing and writing. His latest book is Considering Jesus. He resides at Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.


  1. That last line is pretty intense.
    So often when we pray for light, our intention is to be bathed in our own version of sunshine and warmth and coziness. God’s may not look or feel exactly like the Caribbean cruise of prayer that we had in mind.


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