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"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts." Psalm 139.23

"Examen" is a Latin word referring to the tongue on a set of scales. It is, of course, the root from which the English word "examination" is derived. But it also has a spiritual application, as a form of reflective prayer. I have it on the wall of my study, encouraging me to be conscious of the presence of God and to exercise my conscience in the light of God's presence. The purpose is to "know myself".

This is not about indulging in narcissism or self-loathing or pity. It is about being honest and realistic about one's sinful self in the presence of a holy God, who loves us and is conforming us into the likeness of his perfect son. When we pray "make me a living sacrifice, dedicated and for for your acceptance", we present ourselves to God, not as finished products, but as works in progress. The Prayer of Examen, reveals where we are in the process.

This particular prayer is necessary, both for our encouragement and to shine a light on areas of our lives we need to work on - by the grace of God. It involves turning inwards. That might sound introspective but, if we have made God the centre of our lives, what we discover is not more of ourselves but God at the core of our being. That too will be both exhilarating and salutary! There are various ways to put this kind of prayer into practice. Some journal, others jog, you might prefer to sit quietly. Use whatever suits your personality and circumstances - to go deeper...



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