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Praying the Examen by Connie McNeill

Protestants generally, and Baptists specifically, have lagged our Catholic brothers and sisters in matters of spiritual disciplines and practices. Admittedly, the danger can always be that rituals become routines that are an end in themselves instead of continuing to open a wide path to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God. One of the practices I have learned much about from other Christian traditions is that of prayer. Did you ever think about the fact that we don’t all pray in the same way?

Ignatius brought the Jesuit community a practice of prayer called the Examen. He instructed them that they should go through this prayer practice twice each day—midday and at the end of the day. It encourages us to put ourselves into an attitude of reviewing our day in the presence of God. We take time to be thankful and to reflect on where God is in our everyday life.

There are five steps which you can do in order. If this is a new thing you are trying, strive for one time a day. If you are a family that tries to eat an evening meal together, try this around the dinner table instead of the customary “highs” and “lows” of the day. Here goes:

  1. Ask God to show you your day through God’s eyes. Illuminate your day in reflection.
  2. Express gratitude for the day you have just lived and thank God for the gift of another day of life.
  3. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you review your day about people and things that brought you joy.
  4. In that same review, face your shortcomings—what did you find wrong in your life that day.
  5. Look toward tomorrow and ask God to guide you and make God’s presence known to you throughout the day.

There are variations on this Examen, but this is a place to start.

Posted by Connie McNeill at 6:00 AM
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