“A daily friend-to-friend conversation and review of our day with God . . . a tool for growth”


To present the Prayer of Awareness, the Examen, as a tool for gratitude, self-awareness and human/spiritual growth.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Participants will become aware . . . . .

  • of their unique identity and potential growth through the
    imagery of the Master Potter
  • by the use of the Examen to review the evening, and by practising it over the next week
  • of the varied and beneficial uses of this simple prayer

Welcome & Stilling

Group Sharing (on Passover: Praying with Symbols)

Journal Meditation (‘Potter’ Imagery)

  • Introduction . . . Then Individual prayer
  • Share groups, Plenary


Prayer of Awareness
Suggested structure for examen – and reference to resources


  • Review of the evening
  • At Home

Stilling Music:
‘Earthen Vessels’, St Louis Jesuits, Earthen Vessels, Track 7

Have you ever seen a potter at work? Perhaps you have even made pottery yourself? Pottery making is still practised today much as it was at the time of Third Isaiah. The potter takes a lump of moist clay and begins to shape it by hand, with an image in mind of what the finished product will look like. The artisan then puts the clay on a potter’s wheel and spins the wheel, continuing to form the pot with his or her hands. Because it is designed by hand, each work of the potter is original: there is no other just like it.

The image of God as a potter and each of us as a clay pot reminds us of the second creation story, where God scoops up clay from the earth and forms the first human being and breathes life into the being (Gen 2:7). It also reminds us of the description in Psalm 139 of our being knit together in our mother’s womb.

The idea of God’s hands shaping us like clay is intimate and comforting. No one but the potter knows how much time and love went into the fashioning of a particular pot. The potter gives each pot its own special design and markings. The potter also knows its flaws. The potter and the pot share a bond that seems much like the one between each of us and God. Isaiah 64:8 indeed gives us a vivid and beautiful image for God’s relationship with each of us (see also Jer 18: 1-6).

Isaiah 64:8

Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Jer 18: 1-6

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. “Can I not do with you, O House of Israel, just as this potter has done?”, says the Lord. “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so you are in my hand.”

2 Cor 4: 7

It is God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ that has shone into our hearts to enlighten them with the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory of the face of Christ. But we hold this treasure in pots of earthenware, so that the immensity of the power is God’s and not our own.

Eph 3: 14-21

Earthen Vessels (St Louis Jesuits)

We hold a treasure, not made of gold,
in earthen vessels wealth untold.
One treasure only, the Lord, the Christ,
in earthen vessels.

Light has shone in our darkness,
God has shone in our hearts,
with the light of the glory of Jesus the Lord.

God has chosen the lowly,
who are small in this world,
In this weakness is glory in Jesus the Lord.

An Evening Conversation With God

People often talk over their day with someone they trust. This helps to process the day: we’re grateful for some things, regretful about others; we may recognise inner desires, or recognise and learn from mistakes. Often our feelings play a significant part in this reflection.

The Prayer of Awareness / Examen of Consciousness is an effective means of doing this with God. The normal time would be evening, at a convenient time before retiring. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes and can be done anywhere – in the house/garden; bath/shower; on the bus/train; on a walk. If indoors, choose a space where you won’t be interrupted.

Mark the time as special, e.g. tidy the space/light a candle/choose a helpful picture/focus. Rublev’s Trinity icon has a space at the table just for you. Take your place and become aware of the three persons. Whatever you do, deliberately turn your attention to God, and then follow the guidelines below.

Listen to God welcoming you – by name! What does God say and how does he say it? Don’t worry that this involves your imagination. We do it all the time with people, and accurately with those we know. How does it feel to hear yourself welcomed by God . . . to sit at the table with the Father, Son and Spirit? It may feel strange at first, but stay with it for a few moments – and just enjoy being welcomed.

Now listen to God ask you about your day: he’s interested in you, one of his many works of art!

Let your day pass before your mind’s eye – like a video. Don’t try to remember every detail. Just notice what spontaneously surfaces, and then ask God to show you what God considers important.

To help you to see your day as God sees and understands it.

From what you see, focus on the good/ life-giving / energising /consoling moments:

  • Name them. What made them good? Who was the God who was present in them? A God of kindness / fun / beauty / patience / forgiveness / challenge / encouragement / or ? Savour them – and the God you met.
  • Talk with God about them . . and listen to God’s reply.
  • Thank God for them, and deposit them in your Good Memory Bank!

Look again at the video of your day. Identify the moments that weren’t so good. Choose one that is important for you.

  • What are the facts about it?
  • How did you feel? What were the feelings about? What was ‘moving’ you?
  • If the situation involved a response, how did you respond? What was the impact on you and on others involved? Was this a ‘creative’ or potentially destructive impact?
  • With hindsight, would you respond differently? How . . and why?
  • Talk this out with God, knowing God’s compassion and love for you and all involved. Listen to God’s reply?
  • What have you learned about yourself through this reflection? Thank God for it, and drop what you have learned into your Learning Bank.

What does tomorrow hold for you? How do you want to ‘be’ in each situation? Ask God for the desired gift / grace.

And now, take your leave of God – as of a friend.

Read the Isaiah and Jeremiah texts, on page 1 then reflect and journal on:

  • What image does God have of you as a finished product? How has God moulded you as a unique person?
  • What are your special features and markings (gifts) and what are your flaws (weaknesses)?
  • How is God still moulding you towards his image of you?
  1. Read Silf, Action Replay: Reviewing the Day with God. Read the above. Try either what Silf suggests or the above on one or two evenings, using your journal. How did you find this prayer exercise?
  2. Perhaps continue to pray with the texts on page 1.
  3. Read Dennis Hamm, SJ—Consequences of the examen
  4. Go to the web address www.ignatianspirituality.com for more information on the Examen. You may find there a structure that better suits you than either Silf or the above.
  5. Re-read your journal before the next session. (1) How has the week been for you? What have you learned about God, about self? (2) How might you make the prayer of awareness part of your daily prayer-rhythm?