Examen: Spiritual Disciplines

We have now entered the lull between Christmas and New Year’s. I have always enjoyed this time, as the activity of Christmas has mostly ceased but my daily schedule hasn’t yet returned to the normal routine. I can rest and spend time with family and friends.

This is also typically a time of reflection, as the year draws to a close. We remember all that’s passed during the twelve months, and we look forward to all that’s to come in the next twelve.

There is an ancient practice with invites this sort of prayerful reflection into our daily lives. The practice of examen uses a set of opposing questions to guide reflection on the positive and negative of each day.

The practice of examen is one that you can do each day, either alone before bed or perhaps even as a family or with friends around the dinner table. It teaches us to reflect on our day and be aware of where God is working. It can keep you attuned to the ways He’s helping you to grow, as well as direction He may be offering as to your calling and future.

Use a set of the following questions to reflect on your day.* You can use more than one if you wish.

  • For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?
  • When did I give and receive the most love today? When did I give and receive the least love today?
  • What was the most life-giving part of my day? What was the most life-thwarting part of my day?
  • When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others, and myself? When today did I have the least sense of connection?
  • Where was I aware of living out of the fruit of the Spirit? Where was there an absence of the fruit of the Spirit?

As you reflect on the end of another year, you can also adapt these questions to think back on the past year. [What were the most life giving moments of 2016? What were the most life thwarting? What are you most/least grateful for? Etc.] What do the answers to these questions suggest about the year to come?

The Lord steadily walks with us through each day and each year of our lives. We need only to take the time to train our eyes to see. May He bless you with an awareness of His life-giving Presence during this New Year.

 

*These examen questions come from Adele Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook