Examen is a daily exercise initiated by St. Ignatius some 600 years ago to help people to see and serve God through reflection. It has five simple steps and takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Relax. Allow the tensions of the day to dissipate, and recognise that you are in God’s presence.
Look at your day with gratitude for the gifts God has given you this day: a task completed, a relationship deepened, progress made on a project, customers served well.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see and understand how his love has been working in you today, how you have acted and your limitations.
4. Review and reflection
Reflect peacefully on what has been happening to you, in you and through you today. Having asked God for the help of his Holy Spirit, trust that he we show you whatever he wants you to see. You may find some of the following questions useful in prompting your reflection.
- Have you learned anything today about God and his ways, in the everyday events of living and working?
- Did you meet him in the ups and downs: fears, joys, misunderstandings, weariness, exhilaration?
- Did you feel the absence of God in any part of your day? If so, why do you think that was?
- Did you feel God prompting you, nudging you in any particular way? How did you respond?
- How were your moods today? e.g. What made you feel peaceful? When did you experience unease or turmoil? Reflect on what it was that seemed to make you react in these ways, and open up your feelings to God for affirmation or healing? Notice your habits and patterns in the day. Which positive ones would you seek to reinforce. Which negative ones could you lay down with God’s help?
- Did you get the opportunity to bring shalom today? How did you respond? Would you do anything differently tomorrow?
5. Reconciliation and resolve
On reflection you may have seen both things that seemed to go well and things that you did wrong. Thank God for those things that went well, and ask him to show more of his love to others through you.
Often though we realise at the end of a busy day that most of what happened was centred on our own concerns, and we probably missed some opportunities to demonstrate God’s kingdom to those around us. If you feel like your day was a bit of a mess in that regard, ask God’s Spirit to hover over your mess and bring order out of chaos as he did at creation. Express your sorrow to God and confidently ask for his healing and forgiveness.
Finally, look forward to tomorrow. Ask for sensitivity to recognise God’s promptings in the day and courage and wisdom to act upon them. Pray for an open heart, and open hands to minister to those around you.
That simple exercise can bring deep insights into our daily frontline walk with God and help us to see where we can be co-workers with him in bringing peace to his world and to our own choices.