The last three years of my life I have spent much time in reflection and discernment in an effort to listen to God’s call on my life.  Over a period of time, I had felt a certain sense of dissatisfaction with aspects of my life and felt that perhaps God had something particular in store for me.  I realized that I needed to make a more intentional effort at figuring out what that was.  Part of that included discussion with other people.  A great portion of it was working to listen to God more effectively.  Jesus understood his mission which was to culminate in his death on the cross; signifying God’s mission of humanity’s redemption was achieved.  Jesus reiterated God’s mission and his understanding of it saying “not my will, but thy will be done”. The prayer of Examen can help with this process.  This prayer is derived from prayer exercises developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  According to ignatianspirituality.com “the Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.  The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.” – See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen

The Examen has 5 steps and is recommended for midday or end of day.

1. Stillness:  Become aware of God’s presence.  Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and to help you to look honestly at your actions this day and how you have responded in different situations.

2. Review the day with gratitude. Recall the gifts that God has given you that you can share with others.

3. Reflection: Looking Back on Your Day. Recall your feelings and motives to see whether you considered all of the possibilities and freely followed God’s will. Ask yourself when you were conscious of God’s presence. Think about opportunities you had to grow in faith, hope, and charity

4. Sorrow: Asking for Forgiveness. Express sorrow for the times you failed to follow God’s direction and ask him to be with you the next time you encounter a similar situation. Give thanks to God for the grace that enabled you to follow his will freely.

5. Hopefulness: Resolving to Grow.  Ask God to help you as you look forward to a new day tomorrow. Resolve to cooperate and trust in the loving guidance of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Conclude the day’s prayerful review with the Lord’s Prayer.  – See more at: http://www.loyolapress.com/prayerfully-reviewing-your-day-daily-examen.

Written by Kelly Hansen, 2013/14 Resurrection Scholar and seminary student at Saint Paul School of Theology.