Below is an adaptation of an old self-examination found in an Anglican book of devotions. Such tools for daily reflection, when used judiciously, can help us become more conscious of how we are living as Christians in the world.
The traditional way to use a self-examination is to take time in silence prior to our evening prayers and recollect the day and its various events, surveying the day through the self-examination, point-by-point. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal of their reflections; some find it beneficial to share the fruit of such self-examination with a spiritual director or a trusted spiritual guide; others prefer to do all of this process mentally and on their own.
This need not be an elaborate or exhaustive practice. It should definitely not be scrupulous or perfectionistic. Its purpose is not punitive; rather, the goal is to raise consciousness and increase the intentionality of our daily Christian discipleship. This leads not to sullen frustration but joyful reliance on God.
After having spent time in reflection this way, it is customary to name before God those sins we know we have committed, followed by the confession of sin and the assurance of pardon found in the Daily Office.
A regular practice of spiritual self-examination together with daily praise and adoration of God and thanksgivings for blessings received, will form a solid basis for progress in spiritual life.
A Daily Self-Examination
- How have I spent this day?
- Have I striven to remember God’s presence, and to do all things as in the sight of, and offered to, God?
- What has been the character of my prayer through the day?
- How have my actions been performed, and what has been the nature of my contact with others?
- How have I been faithful to God today?
- When did I call upon God for wisdom or strength?
- What time was wasted or ill-used?
- What duties have I neglected towards God, my neighbor, or myself?
- Of what sins—in thought, word, and deed; done or left undone—am I conscious?
- Have I fallen today into my besetting sin, and if so, why and under what circumstances?