Now for the practical. Are you ready to pause? You don’t want to miss it. The following exercise is a simple practice called the Examen, and will help you with your momentary pauses. We are going to take a really simplified and integrated approach to this type of prayer so that it becomes not only doable during your day but encourages you to lengthen and deepen these times with the other practices we are providing in the other sections (Silence, Centering prayer, Prayer circles and Lectio Divina (biblical mediation)).
How to Practice the Examen and A Few items to Remember:
- Remember that the key to the examen type prayer is to pause long enough to find God in the midst of your day.
- Remember the idea of this pause is not primarily an external change but internal transformation and partnering with God in the moment.
- Choose ahead of time if possible one common act — driving to pick up kids, treadmill, turning on faucet/washing a dish, using a towel, etc.
Throughout the day when this occurs, stop and take three silent slow breaths and then do the examen as listed on the next page.
- The examen prayer consists of five ideas:
Acknowledging, Asking, Admitting, Repenting and Resolving.
Acknowledge: (Don’t rush it)
Lord, I pause to say thank-you that you are with me in this moment.
Asking: Jesus, you see my current situation help me to see myself in light of how you would respond, act, say or do.
Admitting: Pause long enough to hear the gentle correction. If it is condemning, which is often our first thought, let it go, it is not God but your over functioning inner critic. It may however be convicting or correcting. Allow a moment to let it sink in and simply say thank-you for revealing this to me. This should lead to the next step, Repenting. If there is no correction, and really that is a possibility, then move to the question provided in the resolve action.
Repent: Once you sense the place of correction or conviction simply and humbly ask for forgiveness. Then pause, be reminded and state that without His grace we can do nothing but with His grace we can accomplish much.
Resolve: Now ask God to direct your next step or interaction. You might use this statement internally, “Holy Spirit, I desire to be used by you today (work, play, words or deeds) so that others see you in this moment and who I rely on!”
- After you’ve paused take another deep breath, sense His peace & re-engage.
- At the mid-point of your day and at the end of the day repeat the examen and ask the following questions:
- When and how did I experience God’s love for me today?
- How did my awareness of God’s love for me affect the way I interacted with others, my circumstances and myself today?
(Warner, Larry (2010-08-02). Journey with Jesus: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius (p. 63).)
Questions for Prayer and Reflection:
- How well did you do with your pauses this week?
- Did you notice a pattern of when you needed to pause the most?
- What did you learn about your relationship with God?What did you learn about your relationships with others?
- Did pausing help you to experience an awareness of God’s presence?
- Did pausing help you to invite God into partnership in your whole life?
- Did you have an ‘Ah-ha’ moment that you’d have missed if you didn’t pause?
- How did the mid and evening pauses go? Did your love for God grow?
Did your awareness of His love for you grow?