As our evening prayer rises before you, O God, so may your mercy come down upon us to cleanse our hearts and set us free to sing your praise now and for ever. Amen.Book of Common Prayer
Where are your thoughts at the end of the day? Is your mind still occupied with the cares of the day? Is your heart still weighed down by your fears or by discouragement? Or do you perhaps have feelings of gratitude and joy welling up from within?
Each of us can probably point to both highlights and low points from our day. The real question is: what is God saying to me in the midst of all that I’ve gone through in a given day? What has God been up to in my life? Can I look back and see moments where he was present? Or is there a moment when perhaps I wasn’t as sensitive to his presence as I might have been?
I firmly believe that God is both interested and active in all aspects of my life each day. He cares even about those little things we think are insignificant. Because God uses all of our experiences, big and small, profound and mundane, to form and shape us. He’s at work in the little details to draw us nearer to himself.
There is an ancient tradition in the church called the Daily Examen, which means taking time at the end of a day to ponder and pray about how you have experienced God’s presence. One website outlines the practice this way:
1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin writes: “True wisdom consists in two things: Knowledge of God and Knowledge of Self.”
The Daily Examen enables us to grow in our knowledge of each. I don’t use it every day, but once in awhile it is helpful to grow in self-awareness and our awareness of the presence of God.