Crisis Pregnancy Centers Need Your Help NOW >>

What Is the Purpose of a Prayer of Examen?

A prayer of examen was developed to cause one to reflect on their sins and seek out ways of improving in their walk with Christ, but the main purpose is to better focus on God and to grow more aware of His presence in daily life.

What Is the Purpose of a Prayer of Examen?

The prayer of examen is found within the Catholic religion. Many individuals have not heard of the prayer of examen unless they have been exposed to Catholic theology.

The prayer of examen is an important part of daily life for Catholics and it is seen as vital to their faith. In this article, we are going to be discussing information about the prayer of examen.

Prayer of Examen

The prayer of examen is also known as St. Ignatius Loyola's Examen. The purpose of a prayer of Examen is to give an individual a chance to partake in time to have peaceful meditation and prayer with God.

Contained within the prayer of examen are five major parts — thanksgiving, petition, review, response, and looking ahead.

Before beginning a prayer of examen, Catholics normally start with taking some calming deep breaths to prepare themselves before entering into the presence of our holy God.

After one has taken the moments of silence before starting the prayer, one can now begin a prayer of examen. The beginning of a prayer of examen starts with thanksgiving. Examples of thanksgiving within a prayer of examen could be “What am I especially grateful for in the past day…”

Within giving thanksgiving in the examen prayer, one can say what they are thankful for, including being thankful for God’s love, Jesus’ death on the cross, or the joy that comes from knowing Christ.

One could give thanks for anything or any part of their day during a prayer of examen. Everyday examples such as not missing the bus, having food on the table, or overcoming a temptation are all things a person could thank God for in a prayer of examen.

After thanksgiving, the next step of a prayer of examen is petition. An example of what one would say under petition includes, “I am about to review my day; I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me” (Ibid.).

In this step of a prayer of examen, one is asking the Holy Spirit to bring light into their soul in order for the individual to see what the Holy Spirit wants them to see.

The third step of a prayer of examen is to review. Some questions to ask when reviewing could be, “Where have I felt true joy today?” or “What has challenged me today?” (Ibid.).

Review time with a prayer of examen also includes reviewing the major experiences of your day and how the experiences or your thoughts of the day led you closer to God or pulled you away from Him.

The fourth step of a prayer of examen is response. Within the response aspect of a prayer of examen, one needs to ask themself, “In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life?” (Ibid.).

During the time of response in a prayer of examen, one should ask for forgiveness for any sins they have committed. Also, during this time, individuals are encouraged to pray against any feelings of desolation.

The fifth and final step of a prayer of examen is to look ahead. Within the step of looking ahead, an individual should ask the questions, “As I look ahead, what comes to mind? With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow?”

During the act of looking ahead, one should think and ponder about their future and how they can better serve Christ in their actions and turn away from sin.

Also, while looking forward, an individual needs to go ahead and think about upcoming situations that might cause them to be tempted and develop an action plan to avoid participating in sinful behavior.

Some examples could be a person can look ahead and be aware that if a coworker likes to agitate or upset them that they can take the steps to turn the other cheek and stay focused on being a light to the lost world by extending kindness.

Becoming Aware of God

The main purpose of a prayer of examen is to become more aware of God in your daily life. It is supposed to cause a person to think more about God and become more aware of His presence.

A prayer of examen was developed to cause one to reflect on their sins and seek out ways of improving in their walk with Christ, but the main purpose of a prayer of examen is to better focus on God and to grow more aware of His presence in daily life.

Additionally, a prayer of examen is supposed to help an individual better take their stand against the temptations of the human flesh and the constant struggle believers have against the devil. The devil is constantly trying to deceive humans and cause us to fall into temptation.

As believers, we have to take our stand against Satan by putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Thus, prayers of examen within Catholicism are focused on causing one to become more aware of God, giving thanks to God, petitioning, reviewing, responding, and looking ahead.

Are Prayers of Examen in the Bible?

Prayers of examen are found within Catholicism.; however, these types of prayers are not found in the Bible. We are never told to perform or recite a prayer of examen in our daily life.

While there is nothing wrong with doing prayers of examen, one has to understand they are not found in the Bible, yet it is good to give thanks to God, petition for guidance and light, review oneself, respond to behaviors, and look ahead to help promote living a life to the glory of God.

A prayer of examen can help one become more aware of God’s presence and working in their daily life.

While many aspects of Catholicism do not agree with the true Word of God, such as the worship of Mary, praying for the dead, and praying to the Saints, the basic practices contained with a prayer of examen are not anti-biblical.

As Christians, it is advisable and beneficial to remain aware of God in our daily life and it is good to review our behaviors of daily life to ensure they are aligning with God.

While one does not have to do a prayer of examen each day, the practice of taking time out of each day to become more aware of God’s presence and to examine ourselves is a great practice that can help us grow in our relationship with Christ.

Even if we do not personally participate in practicing prayers of examen, it is important that we become more aware of God in our daily life, give God thanks, petition for the Holy Spirit to show us what He needs us to see, review our behaviors and thoughts, respond to the situations in our lives and God’s presence, as well as looking ahead in our service to God by brainstorming what we can do when we are placed in a position of temptation.

Therefore, the prayer of examen is a teaching found within the Catholic Church focused on causing one to become more aware of God’s presence in their daily lives with the purpose of helping one’s relationship with God grow.

For further reading:

Why Will We Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving?

What Do We Do with the Answer God Gives Us in Prayer?

How Do We Seek First the Kingdom of God?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/AntonioGuillem


Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.