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The Prayer of Examen (or examine)

Updated: Jul 25

“You have searched me, Lord, and You know me.” Psalm 139:1


Many Christians today struggle with their awareness of God’s presence and activity in their lives. Likely, this is not because God’s presence and activity is absent but that they are not practiced in discerning it. This is where the Prayer of Examen can be an extremely valuable spiritual exercise for Christians. What follows is an adaptation of Richard Foster’s chapter on the subject from his book Prayer.


In the Prayer of Examen we ask God to come along side us, to guide us as we reflect on our day, week, or month. We do this so that God can give to us a sense of self-awareness but also so that He can show us where He has been present and active in our daily living.



Through the exercise, we reflect on the things we experienced and the people we interacted with, and we ask God to examine us. We ask Him to probe our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and we invite Him to reveal to us the version of ourselves which He sees.


We may be tempted to resist this examination because we may be afraid of what His holy gaze will illuminate. As such, it is imperative that we invite the Holy Spirit into the exercise with us. The Spirit’s role is to comfort and to safeguard us as we face our unvarnished selves. Indeed, without the guidance of the Spirit we may be tempted towards the extremes of despair or pridefulness.


The Spirit’s role is also to remind us that God is for us, and He is therefore loving and gentle in His examination of us. While it may be uncomfortable at times to see ourselves through His eyes, it is also a productive experience through which God refines and empowers us for His service.


The Spirit's role is also to remind us that God is for us, and He is therefore loving and gentle in His examination of us.

This precious self-knowledge allows us to offer our whole selves to God, just as we are and not as we may believe ourselves to be. We become correctly positioned to give to Him our strengths, our weaknesses, our gifts, and our deficits.


The Prayer of Examen allows us to turn inward, so that we can see through ourselves and find Christ alive and at work in us, shaping us into His image.


The Prayer of Examen allows us to turn inward, so that we can see through ourselves and find Christ alive and at work in us, shaping us into His image.

The Prayer of Examen is also an opportunity for God to reveal Himself and His activity in our everyday living which we might otherwise overlook or fail to appreciate. This can be an incredibly uplifting and assuring experience for our faith. This spiritual activity can mean the difference between seeing God at work in the rear-view mirror versus being able to discern

His presence in every moment of our daily walk with him.


I would like to encourage you to begin praying the Prayer of Examen so that you can learn to discern God’s footprints next to yours as you walk in faith down life’s road together.


Blessings, James

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