Praying the Examen
I grew up singing a hymn that went like this:
Coupled with this hymn was the monthly celebration of the Lord’s Supper. My dad put such a mortal fear in me of ‘partaking in an unworthy manner’ I would repent of every known possible sin during the distribution of the emblems.
But, in all honesty, that was the extent of my confessing. I’ve since become aware of and use liturgies of confession. I believe confession is now part of my spiritual walk, but we seldom hear of it, unless we worship in a liturgical setting.
Enter The Examen.
The Examen is a historical practice of setting aside a specific time for examination. This is an intentional setting aside sacred space to hear God, and receive from God. Now don’t think of The Examen as only a test. It’s not so much a test as a time of reflection. What the Examen is meant to provide is an opportunity for you to purposefully and intentionally look for God—in action in your life. This is more than evening or morning devotions. It is an examination of your day when you are searching for things like:
Where was God?
Where did I respond to God?
Where did I miss God?
What was God showing me or telling me today?
Where did I fail God?
The point of The Examen is simple—God is far more active in your life than you are thinking or seeing. The Examen provides you with a moment to stop and look for God. It’s not good enough to generically acknowledge, ‘yeah God is with me!’ This defines that moment. The Examen asks the deep questions that will grow and enhance your spirituality. The Examen helps you to be exposed to God. I stopped wrestling with this fact years ago—if there is a problem between God and me—it’s my fault. The Examen helps find those problem areas so our relationship with God deepens.
What you don’t need:
- A Church service
What you do need:
So in this season of social distancing and no gatherings—The Examen is a great way to feed and strengthen your spirituality.
Are you ready to try? I will supply you with a few links where there are samples of The Examen. Find one you like and use it!
… pressing onward… in this series, ‘Is church the place I do my spirituality?’
Samples of The Examen:
There are a few Apps called The Examen—check them out