Discernment: Cranking Up Your Hearing for God’s Call
Going Behind the Word
Discernment. In a world of noise, listening is harder than ever. How do you make opportunities to hear God’s word? In a world of constant noise, listening to God’s voice might be harder than ever before. Just how is it that we figure out what God is saying and what God wants?
A few notes about what discernment is and what it is not. Discernment is always about deciding between good things. Deciding not to sin is not discernment, as important as it is to avoid sin. It is not discernment, however, because discernment is to find out in which good option God is most present and most desires for me.
So if I think I am trying to discern between stealing and working hard to buy something, that is not discernment. Stealing is wrong as we learned in the commandments. Where it gets harder is when we find ourselves in situations where we are choosing between two good things. Should a be a doctor or a carpenter? Those are both good choices, and neither is wrong in itself.
How Do I Know What God Wants Me to Do?
This is the major question. In a world that is filled with a lot of very wonderful and good options, what is it specifically I am called to do? How do I find the voice and place of God in my life? How do I know which option will be the one that provides me the best choice to become the person I am supposed to be?
So when I consider trying to figure out what God wants me to do, I think there are steps which make it more likely I will figure that out. So below you will find a list of actions you can take to put yourself in a place where you are most likely to encounter the presence of God.
Make time to pray
This may seem obvious, but it is not always obvious, especially in a world where production is valued more than presence. But it is hard to hear the voice of God when we never slow down or stop to listen. At first, this silence may be difficult, even uncomfortable. But over time, taking dedicated time each day to be silent and waiting for God is essential.
If there is a chance to spend time in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament all the better. I remember a priest mentioning in a homily once that when it comes to having X-Rays taken, there is all kind of protection given because we know the power of exposure. While it is not exactly the same, there is a value to sitting in the presence of Jesus as well.
Read the Bible
If the goal is to listen to God, then hearing the word of God is a very practical way to hear his voice. The bible is the Word of God. We hear God’s voice whenever we read the bible. But be sure to pray before you read the bible. Be sure to ask God to enter fully and completely into your heart and soul as you read and pray the Word of God.
Be sure to celebrate the Sacraments
If there is value to being in the presence of Jesus in the sacraments, then there is also value when you encounter Jesus in the Sacraments. Go to Mass. Go to confession. Avail yourself of the ways when you know that you are in the presence of Jesus.
There is more than one benefit to entering into the sacraments. First, you know you are in the presence of Jesus. The sacraments are the gift Jesus has given to the Church. We surely encounter God when we are at Mass or in confession. It is Jesus who really becomes present in the Eucharist at Mass. It is really Jesus who is present in the sacrament and forgives our sins.
Seek the counsel of others
Ask others, especially those in the Church or in a powerful relationship with God what it is that you should do. Maybe they could share with you how it is that they have come to experience God in their life. It can also be helpful to some to have what I call a prayer partner, someone who holds you accountable to remain focused.
It can also be helpful to look for a spiritual director, someone who will listen to you and the events of your life in order to help you to find where it is that God is active in your life. Just as Samuel needed the help of Eli to recognize that God was speaking to him, it is the case that a wise spiritual director can help you to know what is and what is not the voice of God in your life.
It takes time
We live in a fast paced world that does not like to wait. We have fast food. We want overnight delivery, and in some instances even delivery in an even shorter time. We want things to happen when we want things to happen.
Prayer simply does not work that way. It takes time. We need to wait on God. We need to allow those things that keep us from hearing God to fade away as we become more and more responsive to the grace of God. There are no shortcuts. (Believe me there are days I wish there were!)
So ask God to help. Take advantage of our podcasts like Going behind the Word or Spend 5 with Jesus, or listen to a homily when we record one. All of these things are ways we seek to provide resources for spiritual growth. There are other fine resources on the internet as well.
Most of all, ask God for his help. He loves you. He wants a relationship with you. He wants so much to tell you how it is you can grow in our faith because he has so much to give you. Let us pray for each other that our relationship with God will grow.