Discerning the spirits...
Last week as our student ministry focused on desires and I began to think a lot about discerning what the "right" desires are. I began to think about that fact that we hear all kinds of voices everyday and it's important that we, as followers of Jesus are able to discern between the good, the bad and the best. This conversation is often about what the Church has called "discerning the spirits."
Discerning the spirits is an important part of the Christian life. We all want to be dialed into the Spirit of God but we know that there are other spirits we must deal with as well, whether those spirits stem from our own sinful consciousness or are the spirits of this world that the scripture talks about. Part of our journey as Christians is figuring out how to discern the voice of God in the midst of all the other “voices” or spirits that we run into.
There are a few basic things you need to know about discerning the spirits.
#1. Be in prayer. The more we pray, the more we get to know the voice of God. It’s true with anybody, right? The closer you are to a person, the more distinguishable their voice is to you. The same is true in our relationship with God.
#2. Participate in community. Community is important in our efforts of discernment. God has created for us to live in community, and I’m positive part of the reason is so that we can help each other discern the voice and will of God in our lives.
#3. Study God’s Word. I think much of “God’s will” has already been given to us in the pages of scripture, so when we pray “Thy will be done,” we are doing much more than throwing our hands up in the air saying “whatever you want God” and doing nothing ourselves. We are praying a prayer of commission to go into the world and live and do the will of God as we learn it in the pages of scripture and in our hours of prayer.
#4. Find a spiritual director or mentor who will pray with you and guide you deeper into the will of God and into clarity when it comes to discerning the spirits.
#5. Read. Here is some reading material to take you a bit deeper in the conversation of discerning the spirits.
.:: Go Even Deeper (stuff that's kinda hard to read) The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making