New Year’s Day 2014 – Examen and Determine

New Year’s Day inherently brings with it the proverbial “clean slate”- a chance to start over, a chance to review, refresh and begin again – 365 new days. Looking back in order to move forward is a reasonable way to begin this New Year.

So, before rushing fast lane mode into the 2014 take a deep breath, set aside a few moments to review/examen and a few moments to determine. Notice both God and His hand in your life in 2013. Determine – how do you want to move forward? What soul-nourishing practices will you continue or add? What is God inviting you into in this New Year 2014?

Useful for good soul care and evaluation is the ancient spiritual practice of the church called “examen.” Examen is an opportunity to look back over your year or your day to increase your sensitivity to the Spirit working in your life and to provide you with the awareness of your need to co-operate with and respond to God’s Presence. The Lord is ALWAYS present. We just often miss Him or fail to notice His Presence or the evidences of His Presence. The practice of examen is designed to increase that awareness and to help us discern and determine how to move forward.

Possible questions to jump-start your review:
What events had the most impact on me?
What interior events were significant for me? What caused exhilaration, sadness, joy, depression, anger, relief?
What am I most grateful for this past year, month, day? When was I least grateful?
When did I give and receive the most love this year, month, day? When did I receive the least?
What involvements were the most life -giving? The most life-thwarting?
When did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others and myself? When did I have the least sense of connection?
Pray with the psalmist -Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” The psalmist’s prayer is akin to the yearly, monthly, daily practice of examen – pausing and considering.

Adelle Calhoun in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook describes the practice of “examen” as a regular time of coming into the presence of God asking questions of ourselves. It is the practice for discerning the Presence of God. It is a vehicle that creates deeper awareness of God-given desires in one’s life.

 Colossians 1:9 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

Philippians 1:9-10 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more is knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”

After examen and evaluating how you want to move forward comes determine. Ephesians 5:15 -17 “Be very careful, then how you live – not as unwise but as wise; making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

There is huge motivation in knowing you have some guidelines to follow in your new resolve of determination to spend time every day with the Lord feeding your soul on His Word and in His Presence.

Resources that help: 
For simple guidelines – Check out this site as they are launching today January 1 the “15 minutes that can change your life” daily resource that will help you spend 15 minutes alone with your Father. You will be lead through worship, biblical reflection, and personal prayer.

Silencio:A FREE Resource for Your Soul an online publication offered by  Leadership Transformations. This month features the spiritual practice of Examen.

Happy New Year everyone! May God give us His grace to know Him better so that at the end of this year 2014 we will to be able to say that we have grown in our awareness of Him, His love for us and have loved and served others well. To God be the glory!


Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.