A few days ago a friend mentioned Ignatian prayer in a blog post which led me to research St. Ignatius and his spiritual exercises. Wiki tells us that Ignatius of Loyola was "a Spanish knight from a Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)." His spiritual exercises, consisting mainly of prayer and meditations, are meant to bring people into a deeper relationship with God.
The Examen of Consciousness is one of St. Ignatius' most well-known spiritual exercises. At the heart of this daily practice is a review in which one reflects on their day with the intention of becoming more spiritually minded and tuned into God. This prayer method helps us see how we have responded to God's movings and promptings throughout our day and when we have failed to do so.
I scoured the net and found all kinds of variations on this exercise, but generally they all follow the same process. I noted the things that resonated with me then whittled it down to a simple practice I could easily incorporate into my day. I've only been doing this for a few days but the results are profound. I already find myself much more God-conscious and I'm receiving supernatural help for issues that have held me back for a very long time. For the review I chose and created questions that I felt would be most helpful for me.
RECALL THAT YOU ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
God is always present but I am not always mindful of this. I'll now take the necessary time to fully experience God’s presence.
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess 5:18)
What do I have to be grateful for today? What have I taken for granted that deserves thanksgiving? I'll now talk to God about these things.
PRAYER FOR THE LIGHT
“The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything.” (John 14:26)
Only the Holy Spirit can help me to know my true self as a child of God and shine light on that which I need to see. I'll now invite the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide me.
REVIEW THE DAY
• How were my thoughts, words and deeds today?
• Which of my feelings and moods are drawing me closer to God?
• Which are driving me away?
• How conscious have I been of God’s presence today?
• Where were there barriers to God's presence or resistance on my part?
• When did I reach out to help others?
• What held me back when I neglected to do so?
• Was I so preoccupied with my own plans that I missed an opportunity?
• Did I bring Christ to my community?
• Did my community bring Christ to me?
• Did I go out to the lonely, the sorrowful, the discouraged and needy?
• Have I been a sign of God’s presence and love to the people I met today?
• When did I neglect to stand up for truth, to share my beliefs and faith?
• Am I sharing my story honestly with myself, God and others?
• How was I drawn to God today?
• Did I see God in the beauty of nature, a song, poem, story, scripture?
• Did I call on God in my doubt, fear, work, failures and weariness?
• Did I share my peace, hope, joy, successes and gratitude with Him?
• Are any of my daily habits interfering with my spiritual growth?
• Are there spiritual practices I need to cultivate?
• Are there specific people I am allowing to influence me negatively?
• Where has Christ helped me overcome challenges today?
• Could I have accepted more help from Christ?
• Can I become more sensitive to God’s grace?
RESPOND TO THE REVIEW
Now it's time to have a heart to heart with God. I may need to seek forgiveness, ask for direction, share a concern or express gratitude in response to my daily review. What changes can I make? What specific graces do I need to make those changes? I'll now ask God to provide that which I need to draw closer to Him and resolve to be more conscious tomorrow. Finally, I give thanks to God for His gentle work inside my heart as we labour together to help me become more Christlike, day by day.