The Awareness Exercise is one of the most important spiritual helps bequeathed to us by St. Ignatius. Also called the Consciousness Examen, this is a prayer where we try to find the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives.
This prayer can be made anywhere: on the beach, in a car, at home, in the library… wherever we find ourselves. Through this method of praying we become more sensitive to the working of the Spirit of God within us. It is in this reflection that prayer and life come together.
There are 5 steps to this prayer. Besides the sample given below there are many other examples of how this prayer can be prayed.
To start I place myself in the presence of God. I then proceed to the following steps:
2) PRAY FOR THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
- I try to become aware of the reality of God’s presence and action in my life
- I reflect on the reality that all of my life is gift
- I thank God for those specific gifts I have been given this day
- I ask for the abiding grace of an attitude of gratitude
3) LOOK BACK OVER THE DAY
- I ask the Holy Spirit to come and give me the grace to see my life honestly and to become more open to God’s working within me and in my life
- As I review the events of my day, I ask myself: “Where was God in all of this?
- I try to notice the places where joy, sadness, anxiety, peacefulness, and other strong feelings emerge
- How did I feel God calling me through my experiences?
- How did I respond to God’s call?
- I do not judge myself – but face my experiences as they are
- How do these look in the light of God’s love for me?
5) LOOK TOWARDS TOMORROW WITH HOPE AND TRUST
- Where do I need help and healing? A greater awareness?
- I ask God for the specific grace needed in any particular situation
- Where is God leading me?
- What will happen to me tomorrow that I need to talk to God about?
- I ask for a sense of God’s power – God will provide all I need
Experience takes on new meaning when we reflect on it in God’s presence.