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Prayer of Examen

“Soul Training: Two-by-Four” 

The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith

  1. Find a quiet, restful place to be alone. It should be a place where you feel comfortable and are relatively free from interruptions. 
  2. Breathe. It takes time to become “present where we are.” One of the things I like to do is pay attention to my breathing. It calms me and helps me focus. Sometimes I count my breaths, which helps me enter a relaxed but concentrated state. 
  3. Say a prayer. I like to pray the Lord’s Prayer or doxology. The main thing to remember is that you are in the presence of God. 
  4. Praise. I like the phrase God inhabits the praises of His people. Take a little time to write out a list of your blessings, then thank God for them. Expect to feel a lift in your spirit. 
  5. Read reflectively. You might want to open your Bible and read a short passage, or a daily devotion. The Psalms or the Gospels are good places to start. I also like reading a short passage from The Imitation of Christ. 
  6. Ponder. Spend time thinking about what you have read. What might God be saying to you in that passage or selection?
  7. Ask and listen. Don’t be afraid to speak to God directly, asking any questions you have. Learning to discern the voice of God is an acquired ability that takes time and practice. Sometimes God speaks in a quiet inner voice, and sometimes God speaks to me through a series of thoughts that come to mind. 
  8. Journal. It is helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings during these quiet times with God. Jot down thoughts or questions in a journal. It helps crystallize what you are learning and offers a written record you will find valuable in the years to come. 

I hope this offers you some basic ideas about how to use your time. These steps are offered not as rigid rules but as suggestions. They can be done in twenty to thirty minutes or at a leisurely pace can take up to forty-five minutes to an hour. 

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