Dr. Sachi Nakamura (JCFN Board member, Translator of Christian Books, Spiritual Director)
Daily Examen is a method of prayer taught and practiced by Ignacio de Loyola (St. Ignatius), Jesuits. It is a Spiritual Training to be able to tell the move and the guidance of the Spirit by reflecting the past 24 hours, paying attention to the Presence of God during that period, marked by His love.
Paul taught us to walk by the Spirit, led by the Spirit, and live by the Spirit. (Galatians 5) He also said “Do not suppress the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Jesus also said, “Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says. (John 7:38)
We hope to always remain in the flow of the living water and to walk by the Spirit’s leading. But in our actual life, we often step out of the flow of the living water and live a life led by the desire of the flesh. Meanwhile, if we look back, we can tell of many moments when the Spirit helped us, or guided us.
In Daily Examen, we look back a day and consciously examine when we were led by the Spirit, walked with the Spirit, suppressed the Spirit and walked by the desire of the flesh. While doing this, you do not have to go over or analyze every detail of the day. Not only paying attention to obviously important incidents but also you should take note of things that came to your mind, no matter minute they may seem to you. Ask the Spirit to show you everything you ought to know. You might find an unexpected God’s blessing hidden in a detail that you had thought unimportant.
Here are the basic steps of this exercise.
1) Be aware of God’s Presence and give thanks.
Take a few deep breaths. Quiet your mind and heart in front of the Lord. Be aware of God’s Presence, His willingness to be with us. Recognize everything—this day, life, salvation—is gift from God and give thanks.
2) Ask the Spirit to guide this process
Ask for the blessing that you might be able to look back your day just like the way God is looking at it. Ask also for the blessing that things God wants to show us might come to your mind.
3) Look back your day, pay particular attention to the move of your emotions.
By the guidance of the Spirit, with thanksgiving, look back events of the day. What did I say? How did I behave? What was my intention, motivation, and/or emotion at each occasion? What was my reaction to the incidents of today? How did I feel? Joy, concern, excitement, boredom, confidence, irritation, care, anger, relief…? How was God present to you during the incidents of the day? How God guided you? What was God trying to tell you? How was your reaction, response, or attitude? How did I feel about his Presence or absence? Was I facing toward God or leaving from Him?
4) Thanksgiving, Confession, Forgiveness
Come to terms with the power of sins or the power of the blessings that worked within you during the day. It is a good idea to ask the Spirit to show one particularly important incident and focus on it. If you were able to respond to God’s guidance and blessing, give thanks for it. If you realize you were not able to respond to God’s love or calling and sinned or made mistakes, confess them in the Presence and ask for forgiveness.
5) Pray for tomorrow
Ask God for the blessings and assistances you would need for the following day.
The above is one example of this practice of prayer. There are many variations. You could set up the period of reflection for a week, a month, a year, instead of a day.
When you look back a day (or for a longer period of time), it is a good idea not to follow the incident in the chronological order but to consider when you felt most thankful, when you felt least thankful, when you were filled with love, when you did not feel love, when you were most alive, when you were most distant from God’s life, when you felt connected with God or others, when you felt disconnected with God or other.
Prayers of reflection help us to be sensitive to the moves of God, who works in the flow of your daily life, and to His voice. What a blessing to stop periodically and to look back how you walked with God! This prayer is not to blame you or defeat you. Rather, it will help you to be more thankful by paying closer attention to His Presence in your daily life. This practice also gives us opportunities to repent daily. We hope this exercise of prayer might help you find God’s abundant blessings might flow into your daily life.
Reference：Ignatian Spirituality https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen