Prayer of examen for families

More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius encouraged the practice of prayerfully paying attention by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a movement through prayerful reflection on the events of the day, in such a way to notice God’s presence and to discern his good direction for us. This version of St. Ignatius’s prayer has been designed for families to participate together. We have found it most helpful to keep the time short, especially for younger children. The close of a meal-time or with a warm drink before bed are good opportunities to share this practice as a family. Practiced over time, the Examen creates a helpful pattern of noticing God in ourselves as individuals, and among us together that nurtures prayerful attention in us all.

1. Orientation

First, we take a moment to remember that we are in God's presence. We remember the reality that God is always looking lovingly at us. For a few moments, we rest in God's loving gaze. Then we invite each person to think back with God over the past day, or week.

2. remember with gratitude

Now we think back to notice all those moments when we felt God's Spirit at work in us. In particular, we can help our kids to notice when they felt an increase in love, faith, hope, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness or self-control. These words from 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5 can help them become concrete about what evidence we can find of our openness to God.

Was there a particular moment when we felt more aware of God's presence? In our hearts, we can give thanks for all these experiences.

3. remember with sorrow

Next we invite everyone to think back again, this time noticing the opposite movements in themselves. These might times they turned from God's love, or things for which they are least grateful. In particular, they might notice where they felt unloving, a lack of faith, despair, anxiety, impatient, unkind, ruthless, distrustful, rough, or when they lacked self-control.

In the quietness, we simply bring these memories into the compassionate gaze of the Lord.

4. ask for what you need

Finally, we think about what we have planned for tomorrow. What does God desire of us tomorrow? How can we bring forward the best of ourselves, as meet all that will happen tomorrow?

Perhaps we sense that we need patience or insight, compassion or focus. This is a time to ask God for the particular grace we need.


To finish up this time - however long has been appropriate for your family members - it is helpful to take a quiet pause to reflect on what came to mind during the prayer process. When you feel everyone has had time to notice what was important for them, each person may share one or two things with the rest of the family. You might close by praying the Our Father together, or with your own prayer or blessing.