Prayer of Examen

The Young Adult Sunday school at Emmanuel is currently discussing Diana Butler Bass’ Christianity after Religion and this week we were discussing how our faith should shape our behavior. One of the main parts of the discussion was about spiritual practices so I wanted to take some time to gather together resources on different spiritual practices from across many traditions.

This week I’ve gathered a few resources on the Prayer of Examen. I’ve used this both on my own and also I have used it to lead a guided time of reflection for a group of people from incredibly diverse Religious backgrounds. The beauty of the examen is that it is not prescribed and can be easily adapted for the name that you give the Ground of Being.

This Prayer/Meditation was designed by St. Ignatius as a way to reflect on the presence of the divine in each day. It generally has the following 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. 

When I first started trying to do the Examen, I found it hard to memorize the 5 steps (I know, it’s only 5). But I found great joy and support in various guided versions of it. A quick search on Spotify or Youtube will lead you to many different guided meditations for the examen. Here’s three of my favorite:

Rev. Anna Blaedel at Enfleshed

This video guides you through the Examen in about 16 minutes. Here’s the reflection that they wrote to go with the meditation.

A New liturgy

The 6th project from A New Liturgy focuses entirely on the examen. The full 28 minute version is available to stream for free on sound cloud. If you purchase the full album, the mediation is broken down into several parts and it also comes with a 10-minute version of the meditation and a few tracks about it’s usage and history. The album page does allow you to stream the full album if you want.

Fr. James Martin, S.J.