Perhaps you are familiar with praying the Examen. Perhaps you are not. In a way, it is a simple prayer to see where God was present in your day, where you met him, and times you might have avoided him. I have known about the examen for quite some time, but have been inconsistent in praying it.
On the surface, it is a simple 5 step prayer:
- Ask for light
- Give thanks
- Review the day
- Look at what is wrong
- Resolve what to do the next day
Seems simple enough, but for some reason I have always struggled with it. Perhaps because in the past, I have tried to pray it at the end of the day when my mind is too tired. Or maybe I saw it too much as a formula to be prayed "correctly", and so chafed against the step-by-step process. What I missed in my attempts at praying the examen was that the prayer really is about is our relationship with God. He is present here and now, and in all the messy little details of our lives. As Jim Manney writes:
“In fact, this is the goal of the daily examen. Our aim is to be sensitive to God all the time. The daily examen is a training exercise designed to cultivate a reflective habit of mind that makes us sensitive to God everywhere and at all times.”
The book was a great help in explaining the process and the goals of the each step of the prayer. It made the prayer format seem more reasonable and less of another chore to be checked off my to-do list.
Jim Manney writes in an easy going style that feels like he is sitting across the table from you, just chatting with you over a cup of coffee. He is simply sharing his experience of the examen prayer and how you, too, might get something out of it. There is a sense of "try it, you might like it." No pressure, just an invitation, and an invitation which I wanted to respond to.
The book has given me the inspiration to try the examen prayer again … but this time, I plan to pray it in the morning or perhaps at lunch time. So I am starting with step 5: I resolve to start praying the examen. If you have been struggling with prayer, or even if you would simple like to deepen your relationship with God, I recommend this little book, and invite you, too, to try this simple prayer.