Finding God in our daily life is one of the key disciplines for spiritual growth. Henry Blackaby reminds that “God is always at work around you.” While this is true, it is equally true that many often lack the awareness of his activity. St. Ignatius Loyola created a simple exercise called the examen that helps in finding God in our daily life.
This article is part of a series of articles on Spiritual Disciplines.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, writes that “the examen provides a way of noticing where God shows up in our day. It is a practice that attends to what we might otherwise miss in the press of duties and busyness.”
How the Examen Helps Us
The Upper Room clarifies that the examen helps us:
- Acknowledge sad or painful feelings and hear how God is speaking to us through them.
- Overcome a pessimistic outlook by encouraging us notice the good in each day.
- Tell the truth about who we truly are and what we need, rather than who we think we should be.
- Become aware of seemingly insignificant moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.
The Examen Outline
There are many different ways to approach this spiritual discipline. Most are some variation of this outline.
- Plan to spend a few moments in prayer, usually near the end of your day. You may want a journal to record reflections.
- Acknowledge your awareness of God’s presence.
- Review the day to identify something for which you are grateful.
- Reflect on the activities of your day. The questions below will guide you.
- Pray into the insights that you have gained.
- Look with hope for new tomorrow.
- End with the Lord’s Prayer
Examen Questions for Finding God
Here are some questions that will help you as you reflect on your day. They are copied or modified from several sources.
- For what moment am I most grateful? Least grateful?
- When did I see evidence of God’s presence?
- What were the highs—what was most life-giving? What were the lows—what was most life-depleting?
- When did I give and receive the most love today?
- When did I give and receive the least love today?
- Where have I felt true joy today?
- What has troubled me today?
- Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?
- When today did I feel the most discontented, uncomfortable, and the least like myself?
- When did God seem absent in my life today?
Looking for Hope
After reflection, it might be that the first step on pathway toward hope will be to seek forgiveness. The Holy Spirit will guide you if this step is necessary. God is always ready to forgive and give you a new start.
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Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.