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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

A Simple Life Changing Prayer: Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius Loyola's Examen

by Jim Manney

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism

The sub-title of the book is “Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Examen gives specific directions on how to use the Examen. More or less the examen: ! Ask God for light; 2. Give thanks; 3.Review the day; 5. Look forward the day to come. These steps might seem simple or easy but not really! Sometimes Manny states: “praying the examen is smooth and joyful; sometimes it is arduous.  If the examen prayer is doing its job, it will bring up painful moments and cause you to look at behavior that’s embarrassing.  Sometimes you squirm praying, for why would you have it otherwise? Real prayer is about change and change is never easy.” For most people most of the time, prayer is hard.  It is especially difficult when people experience it as formal, dry and repetitive.

The author introduces Christians to a 500 year old form of prayer that dramatically altered the way he prays and the way he ‘sees’ life. The prayer is the examen, which St. Ignatius Loyola developed for the purpose of nurturing a reflective habit of mind that is constantly attuned to God’s presence. What makes the prayer so purposeful is its capacity to dispel any notion that God is somewhere ‘up there’, detached from our day to day tasks and concerns.  Instead, the examen leads to a relationship with a God who desires to be personally caught up in the lives of those whom he created. By following the five simple steps for praying the examen, we can encounter the God who as Scripture tells us, ‘is not far from each one of us’ the God whose presence in our lives can make all the difference in the world. This is a great book to buy and give to each person in your book club or another group that would love to improve their relationship with God.

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