Prayer of Examen

In his spiritual exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola urged that all be taught the Examen, a daily prayerful reflection on our responses to the events of the day. The purpose of this reflection was to see God's presence and to discern God’s direction for us. Ignatius believed that the key to a healthy spirituality was to find God in all things and to work constantly to cooperate with God’s will. Our responses to daily events fall into two categories: our consolations (what connects us with God, others, and ourselves) and desolations (what disconnects us). Ignatius believed that God would speak to us through these two feelings.


  • To encourage us to notice God’s grace throughout the day
  • To acknowledge sad or painful feelings and hear how God is speaking to us through them
  • To tell the truth about who we truly are and what we need, rather than who we think we should be
  • To become aware of seemingly insignificant moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.

Communal Prayer Practice


Replay the day in your mind

  • Notice where God has been active in the last few days of your life. Take a few minutes to practice active remembering of the last 24-72 hours.
  • Find some moment, however simple it was or brief, when you felt grace in your life. Where did God “show up” for you?
  • Share with the group what happened and how you felt the grace when it happened. Be brief in the saying: “I noticed God yesterday, when I walked outside and smelled the fragrant Spring air. What I felt was a sense of well-being, of feeling gratitude to God for so lovely a day, and of wishing that I could go for a walk right now with a best friend.” Simple. But it gives all who hear this a good sense of the nature of the grace that you experienced. Ask everyone to share something. (Perhaps best to go around the circle.)


Name the strongest feelings you have experienced in the last few days.

  • This next step of active remembering is aimed not at “what happened” but it is about recognizing when in the past few days you have felt most strongly moved in your affections. Which affection in particular was activated strongly? Give a name to that particular feeling: joy, depression, anger, delight, contentment, hope, shame, regret, confusion, disgust, compassion, doubt, gratitude, etc.
  • Share with the group one example of a strong affection you experienced.
  • The main goal of Step Two is noticing your strongest affective reactions to particular things, and wondering with God about those reactions. “Why did I feel that so strongly?” “Does this strong reaction reveal my faith in God, or a lack of it?”


Share just one of those strong affections with Jesus.

  • Be honest with Jesus about what “caused” this strong affective response in you, and try to name accurately which particular feeling it was that you felt.
  • Ask Jesus whether He ever felt this same thing, and the way that you felt it, when he lived and moved and had His earthly life among us. You may turn to a Gospel text, to a scene in Jesus’ life in which you think that He reacted as you did. Read that text to yourself and explore Jesus’ affective response. Like yours, or different?
  • Explore through the strong affection you experienced the value that corresponds with that feeling.


Invite the group to briefly journal their reflections.


To wrap up, just spend a few minutes debriefing your experience with “the Prayer of Examen.”


After the time of silence, the facilitator should say: “Ask God to bring to your awareness a moment in the past two days for which you are least grateful. When were you least able to give and receive love? Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so difficult Relive the feelings without trying to change or fix it in any way.” Allow for 1-2 minutes of silent reflection, after which you can invite the group to let God’s love fill them just as you are.


Invite the group to briefly journal their reflections.


After people are finished writing down their reflections, invite them to say a final prayer of thanksgiving for whatever they have experienced. The facilitator should close in prayer.


Invite the group to share their reflections, and pray for one another to close.

Prayer Practice

Each day in this coming week, set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of your day (but before you are too sleepy to make yourself attentive to the practice) to practice the Examen.

The key to this practice is not to fail to practice it each day!

Follow the four steps above. If the four steps above are too in depth, here’s an easy alliteration to remember it by:

Replay - What happened today?
Rejoice - Where did I feel grace today? Where was God particularly present?
Repent - Where did I feel emotional pain today? Where did I sin?
Resolve - To live differently tomorrow, if need be. And sleep with gratitude.