How Can I Pray?

How Can I Pray? - Reproduced from

The Daily Examen - Reproduced from

A great way to pray is to look for God's presence in your life. More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God's presence and to discern his direction for us. Try this version of St. Ignatius's prayer.

1. Become aware of God's presence. Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you-a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.

2. Review the day with gratitude. 
Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day's gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things-the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.

3. Pay attention to your emotions. 
One of St. Ignatius's great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?

God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Make note of these sins and faults. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to him or her in some way.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling-positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart-whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.

5. Look toward tomorrow. 
Ask God to give you light for tomorrow's challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what's coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God's guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.

St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is adorned with gifts from God. End the Daily Examen with the ‘Our Father'.

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How to Make the Examen Part of Your Day - Related links from

Rummaging for God: Praying Backwards through Your Day
By Dennis Hamm, SJ
Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ, a scripture professor at Creighton University, calls the Daily Examen "rummaging for God." He likens it to "going through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around, looking for something that you are sure must be there." That's an accurate description of what it's like to pray the Daily Examen. We look back on the previous day, rummaging through the "stuff," and finding God in it. We know he is there.

Consciousness Examen
By George Aschenbrenner, SJ
Considered a classic. This is a reprint of the original 1972 article by Aschenbrenner exploring the how and why of practicing the Examen.

Reflection and Our Active Lives
By David L. Fleming, SJ
The tools and methods of Ignatian spirituality, particularly the Examen, instill in us habits of prayerful, thoughtful reflection.

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Variations on the Examen - Related links from

Communal Examen (PDF)
By Philip Shano, SJ
The author describes a "communal" examen of consciousness, an exercise based on the realization that Ignatian spirituality is applicable to communities, not just individual men and women.

Ecological Examen
By Joseph Carver, SJ
The Examen is presented from an ecological perspective.

Examen Me describes itself as a "modern approach to ancient devotional practices." The site does not refer to Ignatius and, although its ownership is hard to trace, it is based in Fort Worth, TX. offers six different types of examens, with only one being close to the traditional Ignatian version.

The Prayer of Examen (Guided Version)
Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan guides the reader through a four-part version of the Examen, with questions and suggestions for proceeding.

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Handouts on the Examen - Related links from

The Examen: Finding God in All Things (PDF)
A printable guide to the Examen which seems eminently suitable for beginners in Ignatian spirituality.

The Prayer of Examen Handout
A printable booklet to guide you through the Examen (which appears slightly confusing until it is printed). Use of the terms consolation and desolation means that it is better suited to those already somewhat familiar with Ignatian spirituality.


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