St. Ignatius Loyola taught people to pray by helping them become aware of God’s presence in their daily lives.
He believed that if we could discover God’s presence, we would experience his personal love more deeply and have a greater sense of what he is calling us to do. He called this form of prayer a Daily Examen. During Lent, you may want to dedicate some time every morning or evening to praying the Examen. Below are the five steps that can help you do it.
My Daily Examen
1. Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the events of the day, asking the Holy Spirit to help you. If your memory of what happened feels tangled or clouded, pray for clarity and understanding.
2. Review the day with gratitude. Mentally walk through the day with an attitude of gratitude. Focus on the gifts that the day has brought. Pay special attention to the people you have encountered and any details that seem small. What were the day’s pleasures and joys?
3. Pay attention to your emotions. Reflect on your feelings throughout the day and try to detect God’s Spirit moving in them. Make note of any faults you notice, but mostly try to discern whether God is seeking to direct you through a specific emotion. Your sorrow for a hurting friend could mean you should reach out to them. Your boredom or frustration about a commitment could mean you should reevaluate your participation.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight a feeling, encounter, or detail from the day. Take a closer look at whatever God brings to mind. Let your heart respond spontaneously with gratitude, intercession, praise, or repentance.
5. Look to the coming day. Anticipate tomorrow’s activities and possible challenges. Pray for hope, guidance, and understanding. Whatever you feel inside—apprehension, tiredness, or excitement—invite God into your feelings and ask him to be with you and give you his light.
Adapted with permission from IgnatianSpirituality.com.
Take, Lord, Receive
St. Ignatius also included the following prayer in his Spiritual Exercises to help people grow in their love for God. In introducing this prayer, he speaks about the immeasurable love of God towards all of creation. What could any person offer back to God in response to such love? The following prayer, named after the Latin word suscipe, for “receive,” is his answer.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.