The 5 sentence examen prayer encapsulates what we want to say to a person whom we truly love: Help me. Thank you. I love you. I’m sorry. Be with me.
The beauty of the 5 sentence prayer of examen is its simplicity.
We say these things face to face, and in letters, cards, as a text message, or in an email. We say them from the moment we learn to talk until the day we can no longer talk. We say them with laughter and tears, longing and regret. They are important words. Impactful words. Simple words any three year old can say. More than words, they communicate emotion.
Prayer is an expression of our relationship with God. And like any relationship, it has moments of welcome and moments of resistance. Sometimes we are content with the quality of our relationship and at other times we long for more. We can say to someone “I love you,” and then to our chagrin do something to hurt that person moments later causing us to follow up with “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
As you pray today, remember that you are in relationship with God and he is in relationship with you.
Here are 5 sentences that develop relationship with God. I call these 5 steps “relationshipping” (I don’t know if that’s a real word, but it’s a fun one).
It’s my favorite way to pray the examen.
- Help me. As I begin my prayer, I ask you to give me an increased awareness of how you are guiding me and shaping my life. I need your perspective.
- Thank you. Everything is gift. I give you thanks and praise for the gifts of this day. [List things for which you feel grateful]
- I love you. Be near me now as I reflect on the events, feeling and circumstances I’ve experienced today. [Recall where you felt close to God and where you felt distance or disconnected]
- I’m sorry. I ask for your loving forgiveness and healing. The event of this day that I most want healed is …….
- Be with me. Filled with a firm belief in your love and power, I entrust myself to your care, and ask for ……… [the gift you most desire, most need; trust that God desires to give you that gift]
I have two suggestions
- Commit to pray this daily for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days reflect on ways your relationship with God has been impacted. Because relationship with God impacts relationship with ourselves and with others, reflect on ways the examen prayer has impacted these other relationships.
- When you are ready, and if you are brave enough, share this prayer with a close friend or family member. Go through the steps together: How is God helping you? What are you thankful for today (or this week; the idea is to focus on what is current). What draws you closer to the Lord these days? What drives you further away? What most needs your attention, most needs to be healed? What do you most need from God for the day / or days ahead?
This prayer is adapted from: Bergan, Jacqueline Syrup and Marie Schwan, CSJ. Love: A Guide for Prayer. Loyola Press: Chicago, 2004.