Thursday, June 12, 2014

With practice

The daily examen is a prayer exercise developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. I like its structure (you will see I need it) and how it engenders gratitude and openness. The following is a composite of a few weeks of not-exactly-daily-but-making-a-run-at-it prayer during my summer pastoral internship.

i. Become aware of the presence of God.
You are here, God. Always. If I am a success or a failure. If I remember the kid's name or not. If I sit in a circle of belonging or pace the hall crying. You are here.

(I need to take my medicine before bed. I should definitely set two alarms. Oh no, my phone is dead, I better go plug it in to use as a backup alarm. Why couldn’t I get up this morning? Okay, where was I?)

ii. Review the day with gratitude. Pay attention to the senses.

I woke feeling rested. (Well, I overslept, wasted time, rushed into my meeting late.)

I ate farm-fresh eggs, strawberry preserves, kale chips and watermelon. (I ate half a loaf of chocolate pumpkin bread. I have no restraint. I don’t exercise much here; I feel lazy. I am not treating my body well. But I digress.)

(Why is it so hard to remember my day? I’m not living mindfully and prayerfully into each moment. Social media is destroying my brain. Maybe I should cut myself off. But I have put so much work into my blog!)

Oh! I had a lovely dinner with someone from church. I am grateful for simple hospitality.

I got wonderful news from a dear friend. (I got sad news from another. I haven’t reached out enough.)

iii. Pay attention to your emotions. What is God saying through your anger, or boredom, or contentment?

On my visit to the shut-ins, I felt compassion, empathy. Caring for the outsiders is a good place for me. Maybe all we need to become more loving is to seek out places where love is needed.

Why do I feel anxious and unfocused? I am in transition, but you are with me. You will help me take each step when it is time. Maybe if I were exercising, it would help relieve some worry. (For that, I’d have to get up earlier, though.) Or maybe I should make a to-do list each morning to better organize my day.

But these are self-help tactics. Prayer isn’t self-help. What do you want to say to me, God?



This is why I need to pray, to start and end my day in silence. I worry less when I ground myself in you. 

When I know I am loved and gifted and meant for something beautiful.


Good point.


iv. Look toward tomorrow.

I will pray again tomorrow. My prayer will continue to be interrupted by unrelated, sometimes destructive thoughts. But with practice, I can feel myself being changed. (Very slowly. Maybe.)



  1. Thanks, Rachel! This website explains it a little further in case it's helpful:

  2. This is just what I needed! Thank you :). I'll be sharing this!

  3. Wow, this is powerful. I've been reading a meditation book that encourages a mindfulness approach to life, but it felt empty, even though there are many benefits to mindfulness. Bringing God into the picture and placing Him at the center raises it to altogether new heights. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yay, glad to hear it. Thanks for reading!

  5. Thanks, Priscilla! I like that it's reflective and meditative but also practical and structured. Appreciate you stopping by!

  6. margarita chukhinaJune 21, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    so good!