‘The Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus.’
I Kings 19:15
The Examen is where we pause, maybe a couple of times during the day, to examine the places and the ways in which we’ve encountered God over the past year and reflect on how we have responded to God. It’s essentially a spiritual exercise to look back, to look within and to look ahead.
The End of Year Examen has the following stages:
Taking time in the presence of God maybe go back through your calendar, or look through photos from the past year and note down how the significant people, places and events of the year affected you
Again, in the Presence of God look back over the past year and ask God to show you where & when you felt God’s presence.
Where & when did you experience an increase of faith, of hope, and of love this past year? Where did you experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit? What were you doing? What was happening? Who were you with when you experienced them?
Are there any key moments you feel God is inviting you to remember about 2023 specifically?
And then do it again.
Look back over your year again in the Presence of God and ask God to show you where you struggled to have a sense of God’s presence. Were there times when you felt an absence of faith, of hope, of love?
Were there times when you experienced the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:19-21)? Were there moments when maybe through your relationships you were hurt? Were there times when you might have experienced confusion or lack of clarity?
Whatever God stirs to your mind, talk to God about it and bring it all to Him in prayer.
Looking back over the past year, what have been some of the good things, the gifts, the blessings? Take time to reflect back over the year with thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Ask God to show you the gifts of the year. Let this exercise stir your heart to give thanks to God as you seek out to bring to mind all the good that God has done
As you look back, what attitudes & actions have maybe crept into your life and your soul that are not helpful in your relationship with God, with yourself, with others, with the world?
Don’t ignore them – either through apathy or shame – but instead name them and fall on His grace again.
Be reassured and bolstered by the good news of 1 John 1:9 ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’
As you turn your attention towards the New Year and all the God has in store for you, ask the Holy Spirit how & where He wants to renew your life. Are there simple Spirit-filled ways in which you can realign the pattern of your life with the way of Jesus?