Week 2 - Prayer of Examen
This week, we will look into another way to engage in daily prayer. Similar to the Hebrew Blessings, this practice will emphasize the presence of God in our daily lives. However, it is a little bit different. The Hebrew Blessings are meant to ingrain a deep sense of God's presence in our lives, whereas the Prayer of Examen is meant to track patterns of Consolation and Desolation in our lives. When done over a period of time, one can see how they meet God and how they are separated from God.
This prayer is a gift to the Christian tradition by St. Ignatius of Loyala. He was active in the Catholic church during the years immediately following the Reformation. He was interested in spiritual practices and formulated a writing called "Spiritual Exercises," which were meant to help people to develop a great engagement with their spiritual lives. Though he wasn't a reformer, we have a lot to learn from this man. Perhaps a good lesson that we have much to gain in reconciliation. - Check him out here.
The Practice - Method I
The first way to engage this practice is individually. This is the original way that St. Ignatius envisioned this practice being employed. In order to do this, take the last 10-15 minutes of your day before you go to bed and follow the sheet that I gave you on Sunday. Take your time and work though each piece. If you need the sheet, you can find a printable version of it here.
The Practice - Method II
If you have a spouse or family member at home that you'd like to share this practice with, you can do it together. You can follow the sheet linked above and answer the questions out loud, or you can simply ask each other to respond to the the two questions.
1 - What is your desolation?
2 - What is your consolation?
In this case, Desolation is that place or time where you feel most separated from God, where Consolation is that place or time where you feel most connected or in tune with God.
This week, I would ask that you choose either Method I or Method II and engage in it once a day.
The best time, of course, is before you go to bed, but it could be done at other times as well, if you felt moved to do so. You could accompany it with journaling if you connect that way, or you can simply make mental notes of where God is leading you in this time of prayer. The hope is that by the end of the week, you might begin to a glimpse of a pattern taking place here in your life. And when you begin to notice that pattern, you can begin to prepare yourself to better engage God in the Consolation and find ways to bring God's presence into the Desolations. We know that we can't avoid desolation, nor should we even, but what we can do is to allow God's spirit to enter into those moments and begin the miraculous work of transformation.