Monday of Holy Week (Intro to the Examen)
We're inviting you into prayer with us throughout Holy Week as we step through the events of Jesus' betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection. At the beginning of Lent Jonathan highlighted a resource which we've been using as a staff and so we thought we'd take our time to walk through this particular prayer practice as a community.
We stumbled across this resource via Aaron Niequist who leads a community called "The Practice" which is part of Willow Creek church in Chicago. I would recommend buying this & having it on your smart phone to listen to on your commute or in your prayer time each day. I've put the full liturgy at the bottom of this page as well even though we'll be walking through the Examen on our blog one portion a day.
About the Prayer of Examen
The Prayer of Examen is a daily spiritual exercise typically credited to St. Ignatius of Loyola [1491 - 1556], who encouraged fellow followers to engage in the practice for developing a deeper level of spiritual sensitivity and for recognizing and receiving the assistance of the Holy Spirit. At the heart of the practice is increasingly becoming aware of God’s presence and the Holy Spirit’s movement throughout your day.
Practicing the Prayer of Examen
This Prayer of Examen is primarily an exercise in remembering. One is invited, through four portions [presence, gratitude, review, and response], to concentrate on experiences and encounters from the past 24 hours. The beauty of the practice is its simplicity; it is more a guide than a prescription. If some portion feels especially important on a given day, feel the freedom to spend all or most of your time in that portion. The purpose is to increase awareness and sensitivity, not to finish or accomplish a task.
For this practice
- A comfortable and relatively quiet location is likely most conducive for reflecting
- The experience doesn’t need to be a certain length—as little as ten minutes could be sufficient, and you could spend more time on certain portions compared to others
- It might be helpful to journal your thoughts and recollections or to write out what you notice during your times of prayer
- Consider sharing your experiences: allow encouragement and insight from others to influence you and cheer you on, and when appropriate give the same, together striving to be an ever-faithful “community of solitudes”*
PORTION 1: Presence
Begin this practice by recognizing the presence of God. Remind yourself of God’s presence with you and His desire to be with you. Consider praying for the Holy Spirit to help you be attentive to God’s presence. To become more focused, it might be helpful to repeat a simple phrase during this time, like “Be still and know that I am God” [Psalm 46v10]. It’s important to begin this practice in a calm and centered state. There may be days when you’ll need the entire time to remember and focus on the nearness of God. Don’t rush past this portion. Take the necessary time to wait and find comfort in God’s presence.
“Gracious God, in these moments please remind me of your presence and generosity, and give me the wisdom and courage to live gracefully with myself, others, and the world you have wonderfully made. For the sake of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Amen.”
Take some time and focus on the nearness of God. Open yourself to His presence.
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you.”