I don’t know about you, but I love short prayers. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the length of the prayer, but the sincerity of the person praying it. That’s not to say that there’s something wrong with long prayers, but we shouldn’t discount those that are brief and to the point.
One such prayer which I’ve come to love is found at the very beginning of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. Known as the Examen, it has just five meditative steps and can be praying through in about ten minutes or so. St. Ignatius held the Examen in highest esteem, and he was never willing to miss praying it each day.
Here’s the five basic steps:
- Take a few minutes to become aware of God’s presence.
- With a grateful heart, thank God for the blessings of your day.
- Recall the events, both good and bad, of your day. Where was God in your day?
- If necessary, ask God for forgiveness for any failings you may have had.
- Look forward to the day to come, asking God’s help to make it a better day than today.
Earlier this past week, I was talking with one of the people I’m guiding through the Spiritual Exercises, in a format which lasts about thirty weeks. I had just sent the participants the link to a new app (see below) which has a variety of different versions of the Examen, and my friend said he found the new options refreshing.
We’re about two-thirds done with the Exercises, and he told me that using the same Examen all these weeks had caused his once fruitful prayer time to become a bit stale. He thought changing them up from time to time through all the options on the app would be very helpful. Just this morning, I used the app and found an Examen which was perfect for what I wanted to pray through. I hope it might be the same for you.
My colleagues at Loyola Press just launched a new app based on Fr. Mark Thibodeaux’s best-selling book, Reimagining the Ignatian Examen. The app, called Reimagining the Examen, allows Android and iPhone users to scroll through more than thirty Examens that are tailored to their needs, wherever they are. You can download Reimagining the Examen on iTunes or on Google Play.
Whether you’ve never prayed the daily Examen, or if you have been praying it for years, I hope you’ll check out this app.
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the 4th Sunday of Lent. If you haven’t yet gotten into the spiritual disciplines of Lent, don’t lose heart. God always meets us where we’re at.