The Examen of Consciousness
The method is adapted from a technique described by Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius thought that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible. One of the few rules of prayer that Ignatius made for the Jesuit order was the requirement that Jesuits practice the Examen twice daily—at noon and at the end of the day. It’s a habit that Jesuits, and many other Christians, practice to this day.
This is a prayer where we try to find the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives as we reflect on our day. This prayer can be made anywhere: on the beach, in a car, at home, in the library. Many people make the Examen twice daily: once around lunchtime and again before going to bed. There are five simple steps to the Examen, which should take 10-15 minutes to complete, and what follows is just one interpretation of these five steps in discerning the movement of God’s Spirit in your day. Through this method of praying you can grow in a sense of self and the Source of self; you can become more sensitive to your own spirit with its longings, its powers, its Source; you will develop an openness to receive the supports that God offers.
Before you start: Try to be in a place where you are least likely to be disturbed, and where there is the least amount of external noise. Perhaps you might light a candle or change the lighting when you pray to symbolise the start of this activity. Sit comfortably and still yourself; relax, be aware of your breathing, your body and how you are feeling.
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- Transition: Become aware of God’s love for me in this prayer
- Step One: Gratitude I note the gifts I received today from God and thank Him for them.
- Step two: Petition I ask God for an insight or gift that will transcend my ability.
- Step three: Review I review the day looking for stirrings in my heart. The choices I made, but also what God did in the day that I overlooked.
- Step four: Forgiveness I ask for the healing touch of forgiveness from God.
- Step five: Renewal I look into tomorrow an do concrete planning of how I can participate in what God is doing in my life.
- Trasition: Aware of God’s presence as I close the prayer.