I bring you a third look at the book by Richard Foster, “Prayer: finding the heart’s true home”.

Today, we examine the ‘examen’. What does it take to know ourselves? How do we get deep without drowning in introspection?

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psa 139:23–24)

Our relationship with God will never develop if we stay in the shallows. However, how do we get deep without becoming introspective? Richard Foster offers this perspective:

“I do not mean to turn inward by becoming ever more introspective, nor do I mean to turn inward in hopes of finding within ourselves some special inner strength or an inner saviour who will deliver us. Vain search! No, it is not a journey into ourselves that we are undertaking but a journey through ourselves so that we can emerge from the deepest level of the self into God.”

We are not trying to get deep for the sake of it. But, if we do not go deep we will not discover the deepest level of ourselves, and how God can help us.  If we are going to find God in our deepest self we are going to need to deal with the fear of what we may discover.  Richard submits this prayer as a way of being honest about her fears, but not controlled by them:

“Precious Saviour, why do I fear your scrutiny? Yours is an examen of love. Still, I am afraid… Afraid of what may surface. Even so, I invite you to search me to the depths so that I may know myself – and you – in full measure. Amen”

Suggested methods

If you want to experiment with the examen, try meditating on scripture. For example,
  • A Psalm
  • The Lord’s prayer
  • The Ten commandments
  • The start of the Sermon on the Mount

Try something specific for a week, a month, a year. Let me know how it goes.


Have you tried the examen? How did it go? What did you learn? How did you feel?

Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.

I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times..

God bless, Malcolm


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