Posted by: richard | 27 May, 2008

The examen

As requested, here is the detail for the examen prayer pattern discussed yesterday. Acronym ‘tarry’ (Thank, Ask, Review, Respond, praYer) according to Robbie. According to the book, it’s TPRRL!

  • Thanksgiving – for God’s presence with us now and for the time under review
  • Pray for Light – Ask God to guide our reflections and shed his light
  • Review – the heart of the process. Allow the Spirit to guide your thoughts and pay attention to any significant moments/events and any feelings of joy/puzzlement/anger etc. that surface.
  • Respond – to God in whatever way is appropriate (thanksgiving, confession, delight, action, intercession…)
  • Look forward – as you look ahead, give thanks, ask for what you need from God, reflect on how God might be calling you to live with different attitudes/priorities/values, and offer yourself to God for the new period of time opening up before you.

Have a go and blog your experiences if you feel up to it!



  1. A complementary perspective from

    Ignatius of Loyola left his Society two spiritual legacies: the examen, and the spiritual exercises. The examen (or, The Examen of Consciousness) is intended as a short daily period of reflection. St. Ignatius believed that he received the examen as a gift from God that not only enriched his own Christian life but was meant to be shared with others. The examen was a “method,” a way to seek and find God in all things and to gain the freedom to let God’s will be done on earth.

    The Examen traditionally has five steps:

    1. Recall you are in the presence of God. No matter where you are, you are a creature in the midst of creation and the Creator who called you forth is concerned for you.

    2. Give thanks to God for favors received. Pause and spend a moment looking at this day’s gifts. Take stock of what you received and gave. Notice these clues that guide living.

    3. Ask for awareness of the Holy Spirit’s aid. Before you explore the mystery of the human heart, ask to receive the Holy Spirit so that you can look upon your actions and motives with honesty and patience. The Spirit gives a freedom to look upon yourself without condemnation and without complacency and thus be open to growth.

    4. Now examine how you are living this day. Recalling the events of your day, explore the context of your actions. Review the day, hour by hour, searching for the internal events of your life. Look through the hours to see your interaction with what was before you. Ask what you were involved in and who you were with, and review your hopes and hesitations. What moved you to act the way you did?

    5. Pray words of reconciliation and resolve. Having reviewed this day of your life, look upon yourself with compassion and see your need for God and try to realize God’s manifestations of concern for you. Express sorrow for sin, give thanks for grace, and praise God for the times you responded in ways that allowed you to better see God’s life.

  2. Oooh I forgot about tarrying… I’ll give it a go this afternoon… Before the craziness of the weekend bowls my prayer life into madness!!!

  3. Well I got the general idea, but I found the second description a bit confusing: it seems there are actually 6 steps in total, the first post merges the first 2 (Enter into God’s presence and Give thanks) and splits the last 2 (Respond and Look forward) whereas the second perspective splits the first 2 and merges the last 2. Anyway, I know what I mean.

    I did find it find of interesting, but my mind is so easily distracted that I found it hard to concentrate for the whole thing and I kept forgetting which bit I was supposed to be doing!

    I suppose the “examen” bit is the heart: but what does it mean in the second description when it says “internal events”?

    Anybody who has successfully practised it is welcome to wade in and help me out!

  4. I agree five points is a bit much to keep in your head for this kind of meditative exercise. How about three:

    Prepare to enter in (enter His presence, ask for light)
    Review and respond (the heart of the process)
    Prepare to go out (pray for the future period)

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