After the more formal time of prayer it is sometimes helpful to do a 'review of prayer!' In the review we foster the art of noticing what happens to us when we pray, and of noticing what happens to us in the way we live our lives. Reflection upon experience provides the basis for ongoing discernment.

Since we frequently fail to pay attention to matters going on in our prayers and in our lives, it is necessary to discipline ourselves into habits of self-awareness. When we put aside a little time to look over our prayer and notice what is happening, we call it the review. (When according to similar principles we put aside a little time to look over our daily life and notice what is happening, we call it 'the examination of consciousness'.)

In a review we write down a short account of our time of prayer. In our individually guided retreat these notes usually form the basis for the time of spiritual direction with the retreat giver. Over the course of the retreat they build up into a moving, spiritual journal, recording the ways in which God has touched us. Looking back over a journal afterwards we can be amazed at the depth and richness of what has been going on, much of which, without a record, we would have forgotten. What is true of a whole retreat is also true, to a lesser degree, of every prayer time we spend outside of retreat. God gives us gentle graces, and if we do not train ourselves to notice what is happening, and to remember it, we may think nothing is going on and become discouraged.

The purpose of having the review time after the prayer is over, is to allow our prayer time to be spontaneous, so that we are not constantly checking over what we are doing while we are actually in prayer that could make us too self-conscious and inhibit our openness with God. (If making a review has the opposite effect, it may be better to forget about the review for a while.)

The classic Ignation pattern is to take a quarter of an hour for review at the end of an hour's prayer. However, if prayer has been less than an hour, then you will use much less time.

Regarding questions for reviewing your prayer, the following may be helpful. (It would not normally be helpful to go through the list like a questionnaire.) Did the prayer go well, or do I struggle? If good, give thanks and share the joy with God. If badly, was there some obvious reason over which I could have some control? For example, was I too tired? etc. Did I prepare myself for my time of prayer? What Scripture do I use? What did the Lord show me about himself, about myself, about my relationships? What was my mood during prayer? Is there some point to which I should return? Was there anything that disturbed me or gave me a sense of discomfort? Do I need to come back and look again at the passage? etc.