A Spiritual Director or spiritual friend has a simple job: to help you hear God for yourself, with greater confidence and clarity, joining in a conversation that God is already having with you.
When you want to receive what God has to “say” (it’s not always in words), a spiritual director can sometimes be mighty helpful. I know, because I’ve been helped this way. Often.
Why and how can this be? What goes on? I’m still figuring this out, but my current understanding is something like this:
“Hearing” God can be hard, because:
-Our own opinions, beliefs, personal history and other “stuff” can sometimes make it harder to hear God by ourselves.
-A lot of us still need a lot more practice trying to hear from God. (Hearing is a metaphor that can include words, still knowing that is pre-verbal, seeing or feeling something, noticing thoughts in our mind that might be from God, and lots more. Whew! No wonder we can use help!)
For many of us, this will be a new way to pray. If not, good for you! You get to be reminded, anyway.
Jesus was asked how to pray.
11 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our[a] Father [b]in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. [c]Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, [d]But deliver us from the evil one.”
While most of us think of prayer as first being petition, this prayer is not so much petition as it is a series of declarations of what is true. It’s a series of important and true statements that are already true, that we are being taught to affirm and declare.
Now, let us be ready to not only declare or ask, but also be ready to pause and listen, pause and hear, after each declaration. (Always a good idea, is to pause and listen for a response from God. And this also allows what we declare and say to sink in more deeply. While also giving Holy Spirit a better opportunity to work in us and through us.)
The whole prayer, made clearer as a series of declarations might be read like this:
Our Father is in heaven. (We have the same father, he is not on earth so much as he is in heaven. We are speaking this to Father. Just as Jesus prayed – to our Father; and just as Jesus taught us to pray.)
Your Name is holy. (The nature of who you are, is holiness.)
Your Kingdom is coming.
Your will is being done.
It (your will) is being done on earth as it already is in heaven.
You give us this day our daily bread. (You meet our needs each day.)
You forgive our sins in the same way that we forgive others.
You never lead us into temptation.
You deliver us from evil.
Now for the next step in learning to pray this prayer.
After you declare each idea, each line, one at a time, pause and be silent, be still in the Presence of God. Listen and pay attention.
You might not hear words, but I believe you will find it is different when you do this, and that you are transformed, so that you are different.
This can be a wonderful way to pray. After all, Jesus teaches us this. With Holy Spirit.
Let Jesus teach you, and you – you be responsive to Holy Spirit.
I’ve learned that when I think I need to buy another book about hearing God well, what it really means for me is that I am not full enough of Holy Spirit.
I have not asked to be more full of Holy Spirit and received by faith. It’s easy to do. I may not feel Holy Spirit, but the results are easy to notice.
Hearing from God is lots and lots easier for me when I am full of Holy Spirit. And all I have to do is ask, and receive by faith. No drama needed. I rarely notice more of Holy Spirit, except for the side effects, which are extremely obvious. Such as hearing God better.
(I mention that twice because it’s so important, and too easy to miss.)
When I follow Holy Spirit, Fruit of the Spirit is easy, and just flows. Love, patience, self-control, and other good Fruit.
I am operating out of my New Self instead of my Old self. New Self has no wounds or over-reactions. No traumas. No lack of access to wisdom and love and…other wonderful things.
Best of all, I am hearingfromGod more easily.
And I didn’t even distract myself by buying yet another book on the subject – because that wasn’t my issue. I just need to pay attention and ask for and receive more of Holy Spirit by faith.
Which is really easy. Even when I don’t feel it; but the results are easy to notice.
How does being more full of Holy Spirit help you with hearing from God better?
Those of us who use even a somewhat Evangelical approach to salvation have a few prayers that we encourage so that someone can experience salvation.
The Bible takes a different approach. So much so that the most frequent method to attain salvation in the bible is one I’ve never seen or heard of being used with a potential convert. By hindsight, this is a bit astounding.
Yet in real life, it makes perfect sense. And the usual prayers are used for several good reasons.
It really is wise and good that we get to know more consciously about Jesus, and Jesus as our Lord. And that this be expressed clearly in our prayer.
So what is this most frequently mentioned method of achieving salvation in scriptures that is so unused for making converts? It’s actually a method frequently used by the rest of us.
A very common prayer, used by many of us when we need help, when we need and want to be saved. Just seldom used to help someone become a convert to Christianity.
What is this frequently used approach for getting help when most needed, but seldom if ever used to help someone become a convert?
It’s simply this: call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved.
Biblical theology is probably wider and more inclusive than our theologies. God is certainly more broad minded than we are.
And this illustrates very well how some things are taught about to us and for us in scripture from many angles, in many ways. And we tend to focus on one way, sometimes proof-texting, yet even so, we tend to focus on one very good way. But God and scriptures offers more options than we often think about and sometimes more options than we even normally trust or believe in.
Thank you, Lord, for being so broad minded, for thinking differently than we do, for being more loving and generous than we yet are able to grasp.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us eternity to continue to get to know you and your love. We need you. And we need eternity to explore and learn about your love and your depth. Thank you, Lord!
A friend, who believes she has gifts as a prophetic seer and gifts of healing, asked some important questions. This may answer some of your questions, too. We need to practice using our Spiritual Gifts to we become more skillful; just like we need to practice playing an instrument even if you are gifted at music. Here’s our dialogue, lightly edited for clarity.
Q. Will be for Questioner, A. for Answerer.
Q. Will there be anything happening soon in my life?
A. You are learning to ask Jesus questions, and pay attention to Holy Spirit for answers. As you learn to do this, and to act on what you learn, your life will transformed hugely. This opens whole new worlds of doing and ministry for you. And you will be adding even more love to your ministry. The generous, God kind of love: agape. As in 1 Corinthians 13.
A. And you can ask for more of him in you. I find this makes hearing God much more practical and better. When I do this, I hear God so much more and more easily and better. Even though I don’t feel a thing – I can experience the difference, having asked for more of Holy Spirit. And I can ask for Holy Spirit to be on me more. On me for ministry for others. Holy Spirit can transform the atmosphere of where you are, the room you are in. Ask how, and do as you are shown. It’s a wonderful thing to do – for yourself as well as others.
Q. I will
A. People will gradually learn that the atmosphere is better where you are. Some people will learn more quickly, others more slowly. Yet many will learn. And this opens doors. For more ministry.
A. People who come to my house report that the atmosphere is full of peace. That’s the Presence and Spirit of God doing that.
A. You will do this, also. You will transform the atmosphere of where you live and work. The Presence of God and Holy Spirit will transform the atmosphere of places you go. People will notice and be helped. Some even heal without your doing anything, as Holy Spirit ministers in the place where you are. You get to be an active participant in all this!
Q. Glory to God!! Interesting
A. You invite more of Holy Spirit. You are transformed, and Holy Spirit will do what Holy Spirit does in that place and with the people there. Invite more of Holy Spirit. And receive with faith. So simple; easy to forget to do. Yet Holy Spirit is literally our Helper. Your Helper.
Q. Got it
A. The same Helper that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and will help you. Invite and call on and receive more of Holy Spirit.
A. I find this stunning, I am amazed, and when I remember these things I want to call out to God in praise or even song. (Considering how much I love worship in silence, that’s amazing.)
A. And when you find a partner who will pray for you as you do these things or minister, ministry results will improve even more. And later, you can pray for them as they minister. And talk to each other about how it went. What you are learning. Encourage one another. Jesus always sent out his disciples in pairs. When I have no partner, I look for someone who will pray for me when asked. Then I have prayer support while ministering. They and I can talk about it afterwards, what happened, what we’re learning. It can be exhilarating and joyous. This is what I want for you; these very things.
Q. Oh how I want this for myself
A. Good! This is what our Lord wants for you.
Q. God will send me some really special A. Yes. You can copy and paste from these notes into your prayer journal, or start one. Or other notes in a file or notebook. Then start practicing these things and learn as you go. Learn as you ask your Helper to help you learn these things and to help you do these things. And give you even better ideas, from Jesus. Who knows so much more than you or I. Here’s an interesting principle, not well recognized: how much you seek God with your heart – is how much God will make himself known and present to you. And even more. He will always do the same or more, as you. (I think more; yet the more you do, the more he multiplies the grace he gives you.) If he made himself totally known to us, our brains would fry. So he is gentle and careful. And gives of himself in proportion to how much and how strongly you seek with your heart.
Q. Amazing and wonderful! . A. Yes. So just practice.Look for people who need healing, ask how to heal them, and do as Jesus tells you through Holy Spirit. You will be ministering like Jesus, who only did what he heard and saw.
This is from my Prayer Journal of today. I was having difficulty praying well for someone I know who needs our Lord’s help. And I was having difficulties, probably because a big part of me is aggravated. That’s not pretty, but it’s the truth. So here is what I wrote; I’ll call this person A______.
I find praying for A______ to be difficult.
So I look to Father, who already had a plan before the beginning, and who looks down on A_______ with immense love.
Then I look to Jesus, who as always is ready to heal.
Then I ask Holy Spirit to tell me how to pray for her. I am to pray with Father’s love and planning for good; pray with Jesus, who is always ready to heal and make whole. And I pray as Holy Spirit is leading me, now.
A______ has been restored and has received complete sozo. So this is how I pray.
Pray according to the nature of each Member of the Trinity, my deepest community and my most real family – who teaches me, mercifully, about how to have more and better faith.
And forgiveness, my ability to forgive and to have forgiven, was included as a free extra – pure grace!
The Trinity is my real family of faith. What a gift!
You hear the voice of Jesus.You may not always recognize that it’s his voice. Part of the maturing process is learning to hear his voice in more ways – and recognizing that it is his voice you are hearing. That may sound a bit odd. Let me explain.
Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice. That’s us: we hear him.
A good friend was lighting a heater, there was an explosion, and his eyes hurt so much he could not open them. So he went to the hospital emergency room.
I asked Jesus how to pray for him. I saw a thick white line out in front of my eyes; I was seeing through the face of the person who was hurt. Normally, I’d ignore such a strange thing to see, continuing to ask for an answer and looking for one. Which would mean I would miss the answer Jesus had already given.
I’ve learned that the first thing I experience after asking is literally the answer as to how I am to pray. So I prayed by seeing that thick white line in front of my eyes, as I identified as though being the person who was hurt.
This made no sense to me. Even more than usual, this made no sense to me. But I’ve been learning that what I experience first, after asking Jesus how to pray for someone or something – is my answer, and this is literally what I am to do.
This morning the line was far thinner. And I continue to pray this way, seeing that white line, no longer thick, as if through the eyes of my friend who had been hurt. Jesus is healing him.
I also realize that even if I am mistaken in how I am seeing what Jesus says about how to pray, when I pray as I am shown, I am praying with faith.
And I realized my friend is getting better, and I knew he would be okay. And I am to continue to pray this way, enforcing the answer to my question about how to pray in this situation, for this person, until the answer is completely enforced and his healing is complete.
And for most of my life I’ve missed the answers he’s given, I suspect, because his answers surprise me so much, seem so unusual and unexpected. And because I had not thought to ask how I should pray; I presumed I knew how to intercede – without asking Jesus and paying close attention to what he says to me through Holy Spirit.
Most of us are called to minister in our sphere of influence. There is a deep satisfaction to ministering where we are to people we can touch with the Kingdom of God.
This is a safe place to practice, learn, and minister in. Your ego will be tempted far less than in some other spheres. It’s a good idea to start where you are, and to follow Holy Spirit as in Galatians 5. The Fruit is good!
I notice that when I minister in my sphere of influence, Holy Spirit often noticeably helps. I feel safe, secure, helpful. Inspired. Temptations of my ego and flesh are minimal. Holy Spirit moves.
Please notice for yourself what it is like for you when you minister in your sphere of influence.
Jesus sent disciples out in pairs. See Mathew 10 & Luke 10. Go. Go minister. Jesus even gives directions on how to do this without money or buildings. Sent people go out in pairs. Take little with them. Depend on resources to live from where they stay, in houses of peace. Ministering to the people who know and are in contact with a house of peace is easy. As healing happens, as people are set free, you become busy.
Be not burdened with seeking fame, money, or expensive buildings that eat up resources for ministry. Follow the pattern in the Gospels. Share the Good News of the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Free the bound. Some people will be eager to learn more: make disciples, of all sorts of people. Disciples that meet together are the start of an ecclesia – often translated as church.
(A church is a gathering of believers, not an expensive building.)
Doing these things will cause increasing numbers of people being ministered to, healed and set free. You will become busy as word gets out – the need is great and there are many in great need. Disciples who plant ecclesias will multiply, and multiply, and the numbers can become amazing before too long.
This is a simple and powerful pattern that Jesus demonstrated, taught, and that his Disciples followed. This pattern still works today.
A few are called – a few – to larger and more public ministry. These are few, and the traps and dangers are many: various temptations. Big expenses and big egos are rampant. Selling the current culture of entertainment works, and becomes part of ministries – too often without Holy Spirit. Tricks of theater can become ineffective substitutes for Holy Spirit, as can enlarged egos of people who seek fame.
Theater skills and lessons can be used well in ministry. Some do this on a full time basis, some part of the time. Too many are distracted by worldly fame and worldly methods – this is not a path that is safe or good for everyone! Take care. Follow Holy Spirit, always; and you will be doing well. For Jesus sends us Holy Spirit for such reasons as these.
The most successful ministers and ministries have intercessors – before, during and after ministry. (This is true whether ministry be large or small; is part of the the Normal Pattern of Ministry Growth that Jesus gave us. Jesus sent people out in pairs. One prays while the other ministers, I was taught early on – and this works amazingly well.)
Teams of intercessors leads to more effective and powerful ministries.
Best is to always minister where God calls you to minister. If you are not clear, ask for more of Holy Spirit. Then ask for where you are to minister. Usually you will not be given a grand plan or a grand assignment. Usually you will be given a single step to follow and do, where you will learn what you need for future next steps.
You will make mistakes and run into obstacles. Holy Spirit will show you what’s next, as you continue to learn. We love our successes and learn most from our failures. After five or six good failures, your ministry will likely be taking off.
You may become famous or have acclaim. If this is for the glory of God, you and your ego and flesh may be safe from temptation.