Five Simple Steps
If you're like me, pulling away from the noise is seldom straightforward, and you ping-pong in a mental time travel match recalling the past and future places where our prayers maybe end up short. There are books on prayer and more devotions written on the subject than anyone could digest; still, prayer often seems inaccessible.
As I was reading recently, I learned about a prayer pattern I want to introduce. It's called The Ignatian Examen. Initially introduced by St. Ignatius of Loyola [1491–1556], this prayer cycle invites us to find God in all things. Historically, the Examen has been prayed twice daily — at noon and at the end of the day. The prayers reflect on the current day, pulling focus to the memories surrounding the events of the day, and teaches us to detect God's presence and discern his direction for us. The process promotes seeing God's hand at work in the holistic human experience. I find this five-step prayer journey powerful because sometimes, simply saying "God is here" is the most beneficial way to view God — teaching us that He is not distant but a loving creator, who dwells not just within us but alongside us in every moment, ritualistic or grand. To help me pray, I have curated a playlist of five songs to coordinate with the five steps of the Examen. (see the link posted below¹)
“Laugh and grow strong”― Ignatius of Loyola
Step 1: Become aware of God's presence.
Place yourself at His feet and thank Him for His love toward you. Speak words of affirmation of His goodness. Ask him to bring clarity to the events of the day. Choose to trust that He is present. (Song: Oh the Glory of Your Presence)
Step 2: Review the day with gratitude.
Pray to understand how God is acting in your life and ask him to know yourself as God sees me. Look for his active involvement in the details of your day. (Song: Gratitude)
Step 3: Pay attention to your emotions.
Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time. Trust that God is speaking to you through your emotions. (Song: Lord from the Sorrows Deep, I Call (Psalm 42)
Where have I felt true joy today?
What has troubled me today?
What has challenged me today?
Where and when did I pause today?
Have I noticed God's presence in any of this?
Step 4: Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
In light of reviewing your emotions, what is my response to the God of my life? Were you drawing closer to God or further away? Allow The Holy Spirit to draw out from your heart the most honest prayer necessary in the moment. Do not withhold your honesty from God at this place of worship. (Song: Christ The Lord Is With Me)
Step 5: Look toward tomorrow.
As I look ahead, what comes to mind? With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow? Trust that God is The Good Shepherd protecting and providing for you. Consider concluding this time with The Lord's Prayer. (Song: You Keep Hope Alive)
Amen. Isn't this amazing. One of the gifts that 2022 has brought me is growing and undoing places of lack in my life. As an avid researcher, I always seek new or creative ways to explore my Christian faith. I do not seek new for cleverness's sake but to awaken my spirit's wonder to the fullness of The Trinity. Like me, I am sure you will grow in faith and awareness as you continue to pray through this Examen.
“Go forth and set the world on fire.” ― St. Ignatius Loyola