Examen

Examen
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash
”Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 ESV).

Confession is one of the most important daily practices a Christian can incorporate into his or her life. I think of it like carrying bricks. Holding on to sin is like holding on to a brick. The more sin you hold on to, the more bricks you carry. Day after day, as the sins pile up, the bricks pile on. But when you confess that sin, Jesus takes it from you. You don’t have to carry it! The more often you confess your sin, the more often you unload the bricks, and the more able you are to walk freely.

But how does one confess their sin? Christians have for millennia prayed a daily prayer of confession called an examen (yes, I know you think I misspelled examine, but I didn’t—the prayer is called examen). Even though it’s spelled funny, the point is to examine your day, looking for the times you received God’s grace and reflected it to others, and for the times you failed to receive or reflect God’s love and mercy to those around you.

There are various ways to pray a daily examen prayer. One of my favorites, and a simple way to get started if this is a new concept, is to examine your words, works, and ways. Take a moment at the beginning of your prayer to center yourself in Christ and acknowledge his presence with you. Then begin your examen.

First, consider your words from the day. When did your words communicate the love and mercy of Jesus? Think through your conversations with people and take a moment to thank God for the moments his grace shone through you. Then, ask the Lord to show you when your words did not communicate the grace of God. Allow yourself to remember, and confess those words to the Lord.

Second, consider your works from the day. When and how did your actions help people experience the mercy of God? What actions were pleasing to the Lord today? Thank him for his grace in your life. Now, consider the actions that were not a reflection of our loving Father. Confess those moments to the Lord and receive his mercy.

Third, examine your ways from the day. What were your thoughts and motives today? When did your thoughts and the attitudes of your heart please God? Thank him for those moments of light. When were your thoughts and motives not pleasing to God? Confess those to the Lord and allow him to lift those from your soul.

Finally, before finishing up your examen prayer, consider whether there are people you interacted with today who might need an apology. Maybe your words, works, or ways hurt them or sinned against them in some way. If so, a proactive apology goes a long way.

The examen prayer is one of the most helpful and freeing prayers I have incorporated into my daily walk with Jesus. I pray it will help you as much as it has helped me!