Why Bother Praying the Examen?

With so many forms of prayer out there, and so little time in this fast-paced world, why bother praying the Examen? At times, I end up viewing this prayer as yet another task in a long list of things I have to get done. Yet I find that when I let it slide for a while, I start to feel a little “off.” Perhaps more as a means of reminding myself why I love the Examen (besides it being my first introduction to Ignatian spirituality), I propose three reasons why one should bother making it a prayer priority.

  1. Awareness of Jesus: A key part of the Examen is walking through the day with Jesus and seeing it as Jesus did. That reflection back on the day highlights where God was active in our day and how we responded to God. Over time, patterns might also help us become aware of a particular calling that maybe we didn’t see so clearly before.
  2. Self-awareness: Sometimes I don’t like what I see when I watch the “highlight reel” with Jesus. While that can be uncomfortable, it also allows opportunity for growth and to seek the grace and courage to make changes in our lives when needed. The “highlight reel” also draws attention to what we did that brought a smile to Jesus’ face, and that feels really good.
  3. Flexibility: I can imagine that if St. Ignatius did a Web search for “Examen” today, he would be thrilled to see that his prayer has been adapted to fit so many different lifestyles and scenarios. There are Examens for those at work, for those discerning vocations, for those just starting out on their spiritual journey, for children, and even for those who simply don’t have oodles of time. My particular favorite “Examen lite” is Andy Otto’s deck of cards, with each card posing a question that might be pondered in the context of the Examen; just pull a card from the deck when one has a few minutes free.

St. Ignatius gave us a great tool in the Examen to enrich our relationship with God and with those around us. Whether we have hours to devote to prayer each day or a stolen couple of minutes here and there, why not pray the Examen?

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Cara Callbeck
Cara Callbeck holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and works in the public sector as a human resources professional. Cara recently completed the Spiritual Exercises and has since felt quite drawn to Ignatian spirituality. She is now on a quest to learn more and grow and to incorporate Ignatian spirituality in her life as a professional, mother, and “woman for others.” Cara lives in the Canadian Prairies with the two greatest blessings in her life—her husband and daughter.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I too neglect the Examen, but I still keep returning to it. I love the Examen and the resources that the Jesuits, Soundcloud and Pray As You Go provide. Where I come from, if you’re lost, instead of saying “follow me”, the locals say “Chase I”. The Examen keeps me in the Chase., Stephen

  2. I was praying the examen for a time but felt I wasn’t praying it correctly so I haven’t continued praying it. I am going to begin again and pray that attending an Ignatian retreat Will help me.

  3. I’m reassured to discover that I’m not the only one to find difficulty in daily making an examen. As a convert I thought it was a great idea, but doing it was another thing. The inspiration offered on this app has been a blessing. Thanks for the additional guidance and encouragement.

  4. Ask Jesus to go with you as you look at your day and ask Him to help you realize that He has been with you through it all. Chat with Him like you would a friend. Look for the gifts He has given you this day. All good things come from Him.

  5. I am currently working on the Spiritual Exercises and am having difficulty starting the discipline of the Examen. Knowing when God’s grace is with me, knowing when I have walked with Jesus eludes my knowing. I am on week 3,day 4 and I feel as if I am missing messages.

    • I have recently completed the Exercises by way of an online retreat Kay. I know how hard it is, I struggled too. But God understands. Think of the difficulties Jesus had convincing folk of His message and take comfort. He is with you always and He loves you unconditionally.

  6. The Examen keep me and us in the awareness that God is always there or to see God in all things and to see all things in God. And it also is a way to turn to God daily.

  7. This is a nice link to how I am growing.help me Jesus to grow in you. Make me feel like I am with you more and more each day.

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