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How to Pray the Examen Prayer

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The Daily Examen is an ancient Christian prayer practice, developed by St. Ignatius, that invites us to review our day in the presence of God. This is a great reflective exercise to do at the ending of each day, to reflect on the things that you are grateful for, mistakes that were made, challenges, etc. and to see your day through God’s eyes.

This prayer can be done alone as a reflective exercise, as a small group (especially with those inexperienced with the Examen), or together as a family before bedtime. It is a great prayer for all ages. For children, the responses to each question can be much shorter and the whole prayer can take about 5-10 minutes.

What is the Examen Prayer?

The Daily Examen is a reflective prayer practice that invites you to review your day in the presence of God. The Examen is an ancient practice in the church, based on St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius thought that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible.

This is a great prayer to use at bedtime or at the end of a day, as it allows you to reflect on your day: what you are grateful for, mistakes that were made, challenges, etc.

The Examen has five steps, which most people do more or less in order, and it usually takes 10-15 minutes each day. There are many slight variations of the Examen out there, but all of the different frameworks follow the same basic structure of inviting God’s presence, giving thanks, reviewing your day, and looking forward.

How to pray the Examen prayer

Here are the 5 steps of the Examen.

5 Steps of the Examen

  1. Be still.  Ask God for wisdom.
  2. Give thanks.
  3. Review the day.
  4. Respond.
  5. Look ahead.

Be still. Ask God for wisdom.

Take a few deep breaths to relax your mind and body. Remember that you are in God’s presence. Ask God for the light and wisdom to look at your day through God’s eyes, not just your own.

Give thanks.

Begin by giving thanks to God for all the things that you are grateful for today. Remember that each day is a gift from God. You can allow your mind to wander as you reflect on all the ways that God has blessed you today. Name some of the things that you are thankful for, big and small.

Review the day.

Think back over the events of the day and everything that you felt today. You might want to remember them quietly on your own, or you might want to talk to God about your day in your own words. Do whatever feels natural.

Remembering your moods and feelings during the day might stir up feelings within you, and a need for healing. As you review your day, consider:

  1. Moments where you felt close to God. These are sometimes called moments of consolation. Where, in your day, did you feel that you were moving toward more faith, hope, and love? What did you feel good about today? What was encouraging?
  2. Moments when you felt far from God. These are sometimes called moments of desolation. We know that we are moving away from God’s presence when we sense the growth of resentment, ingratitude, selfishness, doubt, fear, etc. Where, in your day, did you feel angry, hurt, frustrated, or disappointed? Where might you be resisting where God is leading you and where are you being led by other influences?


Based on your review of your day, what is your response to God?

Thank God for any events and people that have brought you joy.

Express any sorrow, hurt, and frustration that you have. Acknowledge any mistakes or failures. Remember that God never refuses forgiveness. Ask God to forgive you for the times when you have obstructed or distorted the light of his glory.

Look ahead.

Look forward to tomorrow and ask God to be with you in every detail of the following day. Are there specific people or situations that you want to pray for? Will you need God’s help somewhere tomorrow? What do you hope for? Are there any challenges that you are facing?

If there is an attribute you desire – e.g. to become more patient, or to listen more, or to be quick to forgive, etc., or if you need help with a person or situation you find difficult or trying, which you will have to face tomorrow – then ask God to help you in these ways.

Daily Examen Questions

After you have stilled yourself and asked God for the wisdom to see your day with his eyes and not merely your own, you are ready to give thanks, review your day, respond, and look ahead. Here are some questions to help guide your reflection.


  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What brought my joy today?
  • When was I happy?
  • What was easy today?
  • What challenges did I face today? What challenges did I overcome?
  • What did I learn?
  • Where did I grow?
  • Who am I thankful for today?
  • Who helped me or did something nice for me?
  • What are some good things in my life that I usually take for granted?


  • When did I feel happy today?
  • When did I feel sad?
  • When did I feel angry, hurt, frustrated, or disappointed?
  • When did I feel encouraged, loved, or supported?
  • What challenges did I face?
  • Where and when did I pause today?
  • Did I notice God’s presence in any of this?


  • In light of my review, what is my response to God?
  • What am I especially thankful for?
  • Do I need to ask for forgiveness for anything?
  • In which area of my life do I most need God’s help?

Look ahead

  • Which people or situations do I want to pray for?
  • Will I need God’s help somewhere tomorrow?
  • What do I hope for tomorrow?
  • Are there any challenges that I am facing?
  • Which attribute do I most need God’s help with? e.g. love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, courage, perseverance…

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