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Prayer of Examen

Your life is a gift, and it is adorned with gifts from God.
Daily life is hard, and we often we look back on the way we felt about or handled a situation at work and think, “why did I do it that way? Why did I feel or react that strongly?”
Emotions are great messengers, but terrible guides. Left unnoticed, those emotions we experience in the work environment can bend us away from who we want to be as leaders and followers of Jesus. So how can we learn to live so that we react to circumstances, make decisions and process emotions with an awareness of God’s presence?
The Daily Examen was developed about 500 years ago by St. Ignatius of Loyola, and is a practice intended to help Christians become more self-aware and aware of the presence of Christ in their daily lives – even in the course of a hectic and demanding workday.
This prayer and journaling exercise is always a fruitful experience for Workmatters Institute participants, and we are excited to share it here. It is a practice in discernment that will help you more deeply experience the gospel of Jesus in your daily work and learn to live moment by moment in his presence.

Darrel Harvey
Director, Workmatters Institute

The Ignatian Examen

Become aware of God’s presence.

Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you—a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.

Review the day with gratitude.

Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.

Pay attention to your emotions.

One of St. Ignatius’ great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings? God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to her in some way.

Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.

Look toward tomorrow.

Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.