Thursday, November 14, 2013
How to Pray Like Pope Francis: The examen prayer
When you enter a religious community, you commit to saying certain prayers every day. For the Jesuits, one of those prayers is the Examen Prayer. They pray it twice a day - once at noon and once at the end of the day. And sine Papa F is an every day Jesuit, we know that he prays the examen each day!
Lucky for us, the examen is a very simple prayer. It is all about reflecting on our lives and looking back through our day to see where God was. It teaches us to be more present to God in our every day lives, and it helps us grow in self awareness. Since I started praying an (almost) daily examen, I have had an incredible gift of clarity of how God is working in my life.
St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, thought the examen was so important that he said if you could only pray one type of prayer in your whole day, this would be it. The examen is a gift of self-awareness, and self-awareness is one of the two basic foundations we need to grow in holiness.
One last great thing about the examen prayer: it only takes about 5 minutes to pray! So go ahead, try it out!
How to Pray the Examen Prayer: Walking Around Your Day
1. Gratitude: I thank God
I tend to make this a litany: Thank You for coffee, the beautiful mountains, my hilarious team, my cat, my roommates, that nice text from my friend, etc.
A litany of thanks works, or you could find a few things and go into greater detail as to why you're thankful for those things. This method of gratitude inclines our hearts towards God and allows us to see why we are grateful for things. This is the one I choose when I'm not being super lazy.
2. Ask For Light: For the grace to see myself as God sees me
Here I simply ask God for the grace to see myself as I truly am; to see myself as His beloved daughter.
3. Look for God in my life: Lord, where have I been for you? What did I do for love? This can be done in feelings or re-experiencing events.
Where did I experience love? When did I choose to love when I could have chosen to be selfish? When did I speak up for Jesus? When was I aware of God during this day?
4. Contrition: Honestly facing what's wrong
Where did I choose selfishness? Where did I ignore God? Where could I have handled a confrontation better? How could I have been more present to The Lord?
5. Resolve: Determine what to do now
After seeing what went well and what didn't go so well, I take a few minutes to talk to Jesus and ask Him what I can do tomorrow to be closer to Him. Sometimes it's as simple as just keep on keepin' on, while other times I make a very concrete resolution on something to do or not to do.
6. Look to the Next Day: Pray through the next 24 hours
I pull out my iPhone, open my calendar app, and pray through all of my meetings and my appointments for that day. I ask God to be with me and ask Him to bless all that is on my plate for the next day.
7. Close: With a Hail Mary or an Our Father
I typically close with Night Prayer, unless it's really late.
So tonight, take five minutes and ask Jesus to walk through your day with you. You'll be joining the ranks of St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, and Pope Francis if you do.