Usually prayed in the evening, the daily Examen is a reflective prayer that helps us notice God’s presence throughout the day.
Speak little, listen much.St. Ignatius of Loyola
What is the Examen?
The prayer of the daily Examen originated in 1522 when St. Ignatius of Loyola began writing the Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius believed this method would help us develop discipline, ask for God’s grace, and see how God works through us and among us daily.
St. Ignatius actually began thinking about this technique during a difficult yet pivotal time in his life. In 1521, the Spanish saint and nobleman had his leg shattered by a cannonball in the Battle of Pamplona. He never had a successful surgery yet still decided to begin his pilgrimage on horseback to Montserrat, Spain (with the intention of traveling to Jerusalem). He ended up living in a cave near Montserrat in a town called Manresa for almost a year. And it was there that he began writing the Spiritual Exercises.
An adaptable prayer
While there are a few key tenets to this daily reflective prayer (see “How to Pray” below), the Examen is easily adaptable to pray to God about your needs, worries, and gratitudes that might change on a daily basis. Incorporating the Examen into your day might help you better see beauty in the mundane of your job, school, or other ways you spend your time.
Your coffee might taste better in the morning out of newfound appreciation, or you might realize more times in your day when you can practice patience. All in all, praying the Examen is another way to help you get to know God — to listen and see for where He is moving throughout your everyday.
Why do we pray with the Examen?
A daily pilgrimage to God
As we follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius, we might begin to see each day as a pilgrimage. The Examen guides us in retracing our steps to value the little moments just as the big moments in our spiritual journeys. Ultimately, the purpose of the Examen helps us become better listeners for and discerners of the beautiful gift of life from God.
The Surrender Prayer
St. Ignatius’ Surrender (“Suscipe”) Prayer shares this greater purpose of the Examen with us:
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.”
When do we pray with the Examen?
St. Ignatius likely prayed with the Examen multiple times throughout his day. In the Spiritual Exercises, he even mentions praying it every hour. We recommend starting with the Examen at the end of your day, or a time when you feel you can be most reflective. You could pray with the Examen on your way home from work, or right before you go to sleep. The Hallow App offers a daily Examen (5, 10, and 15-minute options), several Sleep Examen meditations, as well as several focused Examen meditations on humility, hope, and more.
How to pray: Daily Examen
Below are five steps to notice where God is present throughout your day:
1. Prepare for prayer
Find a comfortable position. Begin with a few deep breaths to calm your heart and mind. Acknowledge the intent of this prayer: to grow closer with God.
Start by thanking God for the gifts of the day and anything you are grateful for.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your day clearly. Now, walk through your day as though you are playing a movie in your mind. What stands out? Any particular emotions or moments? Any consolations – when you felt close to God or noticed Him working? Or desolations – times when you felt far from God and from who you are called to be?
Talk with God about what stood out from your day. What might God be telling you through your experiences and feelings? Take some time to ask forgiveness for the times you weren’t at your best. Offer up more gratitude for the blessings that stood out. Whatever comes to mind, talk with God about it.
5. Look to tomorrow
What are you excited for? What are you nervous about? Visualize yourself walking through the day with God and ask for His help.
Spend a few more moments with God, listening for Him and finding peace in His presence. In Hallow, we close with an Our Father and the sign of the cross.
We hope you’ll join us in praying the Examen in Hallow.