“Be with me as I look at my day (the past 24 hours).
God where have I felt your presence, seen your face
heard your word?
Where have I ignored you, run from you,
perhaps even rejected you?
Help me to be grateful and ask forgiveness for what I uncover.” – David Fleming, What is Ignatian Spirituality?
Church family camp brings up images of a weekend filled with lots of activity – kids running all around, the sounds of chatter and laughter and the smell s’mores roasting over a campfire. Not exactly the place I’d envision to discover contemplative prayer practices! Yet that was my big take-away from a recent church Campout I attended.
During a breakout session, I re-learned about the centuries-old practice called “The Examen.” And I actually then begin to practice it daily which is a huge step for me! Okay, so it’s only been two weeks so far but I can already sense a habit being formed. Especially now that I’ve found a time of day that works well for me – during my kiddos’ afternoon nap. (The funny thing is that I’ve had a version of this taped up by me bed for years in order to practice it at the end of the day but I never really did).
I originally learned the about the Prayer of Examen at a Bible study last winter. The leaders there said that basically you can just look over the last 24 hours and ask yourself the following questions (at least these were the ones I found which resonated with me): “What has brought you joy? What has drained you?” And then thank God for being with you through it all – both the good and the bad.
I also found in this blog post a version of the five-step Daily Examen which St. Ignatius practiced:
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.
For details about each step of the Examen, read How Can I Pray?
If you’ve been reading my blog awhile you know that I tend to struggle with the spiritual practice of prayer. That is why I was so excited to realize I can combine my writing with my prayer life because doing this feels more sustainable for me. Another neat thing was that at the end of my first week of practicing the Examen, I randomly read this blog post by Ed Cyzewski talking about it as well. That’s when I know God’s trying to get my attention!
Here are some gems I’ve uncovered so far while doing The Daily Examen: “Joy was found in feeling I knew how to ask reflective questions in order to help a friend process through some of her issues. Joy was found in peace and quiet this afternoon as I looked at the flowers outside the window and had a light breeze blowing in from the back deck – Ahhh! Joy was found in a beautiful beach sunset picture I saw posted on Facebook. Joy was found in a yummy dinner and good conversation with friends. I found Joy in the fact that one of my blog posts resonated with what God was also teaching a person who commented on it.
I was Drained by feeling tired and lonely tonight even in a crowd. I was Drained by feeling like I was responsible for connecting with all the people at our dinner since I had been the organizer. I felt Drained by feeling tired and not able to focus/concentrate/care as much as I wanted to in a conversation with my friend. I was Drained by the long line at Starbucks this morning which caused me to have to change my plans about having time to journal before work. But thanks, God, for being with me through all of this!”
My question now is does any of this resonate with you? Do you feel a tug to incorporate this practice into your own life? If so, what might that look like for you, practically speaking? If nothing else, I hope I have encouraged you to think about what your own prayer life looks like (or can look like). I’ll close with the end of The Examen Prayer:
“Please come close.
I ask that you draw me ever closer to you this day and tomorrow.
You are the God of my life. Thank you.” – David Fleming, What is Ignatian Spirituality?
**I’m linking up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for your Heart today. Click on the image below to find some other great posts in the linkup too.**