Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place—and I did not know it!”
What a wondrous world that Jacob awakened to that morning as he discovered that God was always with Him. And what a wondrous morning it can be for us as we discover that God is always with us. He is the astonishing God in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is active in our lives, continually revealing Himself to us in every nook and cranny. He is always present with us, but we are not always present to Him.
Ignatius of Loyola taught a way for us to become more aware of God’s presence in a special way praying: the Daily Examen. It is actually an attitude more than it is a process. Examen is not a misspelling, but the Latin word for the pointer on a balance scale indicating the weight of something. Ignatius taught the Daily Examen as a pointer to God’s presence throughout our daily lives. As we begin to pray the Examen we find our God-awareness growing as we discover God throughout our day.
As taught by Ignatius, we complete the day by prayerfully reviewing it with gratitude and by reflecting on two important questions:
- When did I most sense God’s presence in my day?
- When did I least sense God’s presence in my day? (Ignatius thought this question as important as the first.)
While Ignatius recommended the Daily Examen for both noon and night, most people practice it at the end of the day. Either way, people are ‘pointed’ to God’s presence and leading in their lives. It is exciting, as Jacob experienced, to awaken to the moment and to the ever-present God!
- To complete your own Daily Examen follow the steps below:
- Pray, asking God for light on your day. You want to look back on your day with God’s eyes, not merely your own. Some people like to burn a candle as a symbol of asking for God’s light on their day.
- Review your day with gratitude. The day you have just lived is a gift of God. Focus on the gifts of your day. Thank God for them: the words of a friend, the sights you saw, the food you ate… Thank God for all.
- Reflect on when: (1) you most sensed God’s presence in your day; (2) when you least sensed God’s presence in your day.
- Talk with God about your answers to the above two reflection questions.
- Look to tomorrow. Ask God to give you eyes to see Him in all things. Talk to Him regarding any concerns about tomorrow. Ask for His guidance and help. Ignatius encouraged people to talk with Jesus like they were talking with a friend.
“We pass from thinking of God as part of our life to the realization that we are part of his life.”
Richard Foster, Prayer