I can tell you this that the Lord does speak to you and you have the ability to hear Him and follow Him. John 10:27 says,
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
That is what Examen is, it is a purposeful examination of your life, your day, and your self to recognize God’s presence, activity, and voice. It brings you to a place where you can appreciate the “God stuff,” His will, and just how involved He is in your life. It helped me hear God’s voice and it helped me notice just how many ways He speaks to us.
Examen is typically done at the end of one’s day. It is a quiet time of prayer and reflection with the Lord in which we ask Him to reveal Himself in the day’s events. We come to Him in prayer and ask Him to open our eyes, ears, and mind to Him. Thank Him for the day and the blessings it brought. Colossians 1:9-14 reads,
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
To reflect on the day, you might choose to list each blessing you can think of from the morning’s cup of coffee to the chance to chat with the delivery man and to having enough food to cook dinner. This will help you notice God in your day, even in the little things like the flower growing through the sidewalk that you noticed. Or you might ask two questions such as,
What I was most thankful for today? What was I least thankful for today?
How did I give or receive the most love today? Did I miss a chance to love someone?
Where did I see the Lord work today?
Did the Holy Spirit teach me show me something today?
We are walking in the kingdom of God as we simultaneously walk in the world. God’s kingdom though invisible to most is more real than the visible world. We can walk with our eyes open to His kingdom if we choose. Examen helps us to do that. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 reminds us of this,
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
The book Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barret Browning contains this poem 86, which gives us an example of how we walk with our consciences and consciousness closed to the kingdom of God around us. Some excerpts from that poem are,
TRUTH, so far, in my book;—the truth which draws
Through all things upwards,—that a twofold world
Must go to a perfect cosmos. Natural things
And spiritual,—who separates those two
In art, in morals, or the social drift
No motion: without sensuous, spiritual
Is inappreciable,—no beauty or power:
And in this twofold sphere the twofold man
(For still the artist is intensely a man)
Holds firmly by the natural, to reach
The spiritual beyond it,—fixes still
The type with mortal vision, to pierce through,
With eyes immortal, to the antetype
Some call the ideal,—better call the real,
And certain to be called so presently
When things shall have their names. Look long enough
On any peasant’s face here, coarse and lined,
You’ll catch Antinous somewhere in that clay,
And (glancing on my own thin, veinèd wrist),
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.
What does that mean? It means most of us go through this world missing God in the everyday stuff. We miss Him in the beautiful face of the homeless man and we miss Him in the way His creation works so perfectly. We miss Him speaking to us, we are standing on holy ground and He is miraculously working in front of us and instead of hearing Him or even taking note of the burning bush, we are living our lives unaware of Him.
Examen helped me see God in the everyday, in the giggle of a baby and the tears of a man. It helped me see His guiding hand in my life and truly hear Him speak. When I prayed and reflected on my day, I could clearly see how He had shown me this and told me that. Not only did I start recognizing His voice but I saw Him speaking through circumstances, other people, His creation, and numerous other ways. Hebrews 1:1-2 reads,
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
He speaks in many times and many ways. He speaks through prophets. He speaks through Jesus. Joel 2:28-30 reads,
“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.
He speaks to us directly through His Holy Spirit, He speaks to us through one another, and He speaks through signs and wonders, and natural events. And 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
If we really are seeking God, we cannot miss Him, He is here; He is actively speaking to us and actively revealing His will to us. He wants us to be complete in Him and He wants us to use our position in Him for every good work! If you want to know what God is saying read His Scriptures, they are alive and He speaks through them. If you want to hear from Him, spend some time listening to Him. Now, I can hear some of you saying, ‘That is fine and good but I still don’t hear Him when I listen.’
I will give you a little help, when you ask God to tell you something, stop and be quiet, actually listen and wait. You know that tiny strange thought you got and threw away? That one that you swear was yourself, take a hold of it. Chances are that was not you, why would you have thought such a crazy thought? Take the thought and ask if it aligns with scripture, check it out, and it is likely you will find out it was God. If you obey, if you are faithful to His voice then over time, you will more clearly hear Him. We are told to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). That includes the thoughts we imagine are ours but are really God. How else do we obey unless we have been given the command? It is up to us to learn to understand the difference between His voice, our voice, and Satan’s voice.
God doesn’t sound like you imagine, He is not a huge booming voice. Mountains do not melt because His voice is so thunderous, mountains melt because He is the LORD. 1 Kings 19:8-14 tells a story about Elijah running in fear from Jezebel. It helps us understand that God does not conform to what we assume He is, He brings us to Him. It also shows that He is compassionate and loving. As His children, we have no reason to fear His voice. Here is that passage from The Message.
He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.
Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”
10 “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”
11-12 Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.
13-14 When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”
The practice of Examen will help you to be more aware of God in your life, how He is working in you, around you and through you. It will help you foster discernment and open your ears, eyes, and heart to Him and give you ever-growing faith to obey Him and hear Him more and more. Once, I swore I couldn’t hear God, now I hear Him daily and you can too.