The Prayer of Examen





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The Prayer of Examen

Dr Alex Tang


Examen is a Latin word related to the concept of examination. The word actually indicates the point on scale that points to the true weight of something placed on the scale. Examen of consciousness means assessing one’s life before God on a regular basis. Examen of consciousness is a prayer developed by Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. He urged all members to use this prayer daily, even when they are traveling, working or involved in projects where other forms of prayers are impossible.

Recollection is the root of the prayer of examen. It asks us to focus on the last twenty-four hours of our life. The prayer of examen is one way to prevent days from going by unexamined and unlived.


Biblical basis

PS 4:4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.

PS 26:2 Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;

LA 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

JER 17:10 "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

1CO 2:10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God

PS 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. PS 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


The Prayer of Examen

1.      Preparation

We begin by stilling our body, mind and spirit before the Lord.

2.      Gratitude

We scan the previous day looking for events, experiences, ideas, encounters and conversations that came across as good gifts to us and have provoked gratitude. As we recall we keep stopping and saying, “O, yes, I remember. Thank you, Lord.” This is a reminder that no matter how bad the day has been, God continues His sustaining work in our lives. The prayer of examen makes us into a grateful people.

3.      Awareness of God

We go back over the last twenty-four hours, this time looking for  God’s presence. Sometimes it is easy. We see a young baby smile and we feel the joy of a creator God. At times it is difficult when the days was dark and weary. Yet in our discontent, we can find new life as our daily functioning as a human being is a gift of God. The prayer of examen can make us into the type of people who lives constantly with the awareness of God’s presence.

4.      Confession of failure

We recall the last twenty-four hours but this time we are alert to the times when we fail the Lord, when we choose against the way of love and refused to get involved. We search for the times when we refused the work of the Holy Spirit, when we refuse to allow the Spirit to work in and through us. As we find these ‘refusals’, we hold up to the Lord in confession and repentance. We ask for forgiveness. The prayer of examen helps us to avoid issues of failures and transgressions as they occur.

5.      Thanksgiving

We conclude this daily prayer by thanking God again for his grace and love.


Richard Peace writes, “The prayer of examen is about noticing: noticing the good gifts God gives us, noticing the presence of God in our lives, and noticing the ways we fail God. When we notice, we become more conscious. When we become more conscious, we grow.”


|posted 24 December 2006|


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 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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