The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. — Psalm 145:18, NIV
Throughout time, followers of Jesus have become more attentive to the Lord from the Saint Ignatius prayer of examen. St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish priest and theologian, believed that discernment came out of awareness of how God moved uniquely in each soul.1 Accordingly, he developed the spiritual practice of the daily examen rooted in Scripture.
The prayer of examen is a simple spiritual practice available for you to connect with God and find him in your everyday. It is a reflective style of prayer that can be done daily, weekly or monthly and typically takes around five to 20 minutes.
In This Article:
Why Prayer of Examen?
So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. — Colossians 1:10-12, NIV
It is great to desire to notice God more, but oftentimes we don’t act on that desire or perhaps even know how to. Prayer of examen works as a practical exercise aimed toward seeing God in all things, and ultimately becoming more like Christ and in awe of his beauty.
Author Adele Calhoun says the examen provides a way of noticing where God and we ourselves show up in our days.2 Here are some ways she states fruit may be produced from practicing the prayer of examen:2
- Keeping company with Jesus throughout the highs and lows of the day
- Becoming quicker to recognize God’s presence in your experiences
- Developing more discernment and receptivity to God’s voice
- Fostering gratitude
- Being aware of areas you can grow
- Becoming more prayerful throughout your day
Daily Examen Steps
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. — Psalm 51:10, NIV
The prayer of examen can be done in a few ways and revised to your preference. You may write your responses in a journal or simply respond in your head in conversation with God. Here are five steps you can use as a guide to lean deeply into God for your own daily examen:3
1. Gratitude: Psalm 100:4 says to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praises.” Give thanks to God for his benefits today and all that you are grateful for. Beginning with gratitude is another way to remember the good character of God and the blessings he has placed upon your life.
2. Ask for Light: Ask the Holy Spirit to see your day through his eyes and with his truth. Even though it may be difficult, the daily examen is designed to be beautifully authentic and revealing.
3. Review: Review your day as if you were watching a short film. What happened? Where did you sense God’s presence? When did you feel far from him? Do your best to actively remember your day and notice where he was particularly present.
4. Repent: You may ask yourself, Where did I feel emotional pain today? or, Where did I stray away from God? Then, ask God for forgiveness over your sins today. Invite his mercy and compassion to be with you. Hold space for both self-awareness and the overwhelming grace from God.
5. Renew: Close by asking God to renew you, make you more available, and to continue seeing him in all things. If you had a burdensome or dull day, it is okay! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you live out tomorrow differently.
Once you get in the rhythm of practicing the daily examen, you may be able to look back and observe what formed you toward or away from the image of Jesus. You may begin to notice him more and more in your everyday — what a gift that is!
If you desire to practice the prayer of examen in community or learn more about this spiritual practice to help you continue seeing God in all things, consider attending Grand Canyon University’s Spiritual Formation workshops. Fill out the form on this page to learn more.
1 How Can I Pray? (n.d.). Ignatian Spirituality. Loyola Press.
2 Calhoun, A., Adele (2015). Spiritual disciplines handbook: Practices that transform us. Ivp Books. An Imprint of Intervarsity Press.
3 Thibodeaux, M. (n.d.). Try the Daily Examen. Loyola Press.
Approved by the local outreach coordinator of the Office of Spiritual Life on Jan. 24, 2024
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.