Because every decision must be made in line with God's will, Christian spiritual discernment can be distinguished from other types of discernment. Christian discernment is defined as a decision-making process in which an individual discovers something that can lead to future action. God leads the individual through the process of Christian spiritual discernment to help them make the greatest decision possible. In Christian spiritual discernment, the greatest approach to arrive at the best option is to look for internal and outward indicators of God's action and then apply them to the situation at hand. Christian discernment also places a strong emphasis on Jesus and making decisions that are consistent with Jesus' teachings in the New Testament. Christian discernment differs from secular discernment in that it focuses on God and Jesus while making decisions. Ignatius of Loyola is widely regarded as a master of spirit discernment. Ignatian discernment is named after Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), who developed his own distinct method of Catholic discernment. Ignatian discernment focuses on perceiving God in all aspects of life and uses a series of Spiritual Exercises to help people make better life decisions. The Spiritual Exercises are intended to assist those who are confronted with a significant life decision. Identifying the issue, spending time to pray about the choice, making a wholehearted decision, discussing the choice with a mentor, and lastly trusting the decision made are the seven steps of discernment to be followed.
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How do you practice spiritual discernment?
The difficulty is that we sometimes wait until there's a major issue at stake before engaging in discernment and then we're completely unfamiliar with the process when everything seems to be on the line. It's not a pleasant environment to be in.
Thankfully, God can work with us in any location, at any time, and in any manner. But, by making discernment a strong habit in our life, we can better equip ourselves to address the major questions.
Imagine attempting to interpret a gourmet soufflé recipe when we've never learnt to fry an egg. It'll be a lot more challenging this time!
Learning to discern entails developing the practice of using discernment in our daily lives, in both big and small matters.
Practice talking to God about the simple things in your life. Practice listening – He might not speak to you the same way he speaks to others. If you've never listened before, don't expect to be able to hear right away.
Get to know yourself your inclinations, your tendencies, and your regular approaches to circumstances. You can modify properly if you know yourself.
Practice observing observing your own reactions to opportunities, challenges, and other people's reactions. How can you learn if you don't pay attention?
Keep a journal, meet with a friend or mentor on a regular basis, and find a way to observe the trail you're leaving behind. We learn more about ourselves over time than we can see in the present.
Making discernment a habit relieves stress when presented with a major decision, such as who to marry, where to live, or what to do. Instead of being a novice, you'll be well-versed in the art of discernment.
However, there is one caveat: don't expect to become an expert in discernment overnight. It takes several years! And, for the sake of the great questions, don't even make it your objective to be adept at discernment.
Even if we believe we have made all of our major life decisions, discernment is a lifelong process that never ends. Learning to appreciate the process is key to making it a habit.
What are characteristics of discernment?
With an open mind and an open heart, we must approach the decision in question. We won't be able to discover God's will for us if we go into the decision-making process with a pre-determined outcome based on our own will, biases, and attachments, which Ignatius defines as an attitude of “I already have my mind made up, so don't confuse me with the facts.” Attachments are areas in our lives where we restrict our freedom and impose constraints on our choices. For example, I'll attend college wherever if it's within a day's drive of my parents' house.
Such generosity and openness take courage, because God may be calling us to do something tough, demanding, and risky. Giving up control and trustingly placing the decision in God's hands while seeking God's will over our own demands courage.
How many types of discernment are there?
Ignatius' guidelines for discerning spirits are divided into four categories: (1) seven attitudes or personal qualities required for authentic discernment of spirits, (2) three different “times” or conditions during which decisions are made, (3) seven practical techniques that can aid in the discernment process, and (4) some guidelines for determining whether a given inner movement or desire comes from a good or evil spirit.
What does it mean to pray for discernment?
Dear heavenly Father, you count our hairs and determine our days; you hang the stars and feed the birds; you open and close doors that no one can open or close. Surely, we can put our faith in you when it comes to making significant decisions, or any decisions for that matter. We're through a similar season right now, Father, and we're aware that we're not alone. For the sake of your honor, we will trust you with generous wisdom, straight roads, and quiet hearts.
We adore you for being the God of decision-making. It is your choices, not ours, that determine the outcome. We'll make plans, but we'll entrust our actions to you. We'll pray, but we'd like you to direct our prayers to heaven. We'll seek advice, but you may count on you to veto any incorrect or incomplete information from our closest friends and mentors. We'll read through the Bible, but not for proof passages, but for you, Father. All we want and need is for you to come along.
Free us from the paralysis of analysisdesiring to make the right decision more than being virtuous; desiring to be known as smart people more than knowing you. Free us from the idolatry of believing that there is just one “ideal” option in every scenario. Free us from making decisions based solely on our comfort and the approval of others, or out of fear of their condemnation. Allow us to understand that good decisions do not always result in the most straightforward outcomes, especially at first. Allow us to make decisions without second and twenty-second thoughts.
Father, we know that your will is our sanctificationour becoming more and more like Jesusin ALL things, whether it's wisdom about purchasing or selling, vocation or vacation, this place or that place, this person or that person. Give us this zeal; make it our pleasure.
So, Father, when we trust you with the opening and closing of doors in front of us, make us more and more like Jesus. Everything we eat and drink is for your glory, as are our whatevers, whenevers, and wherevers. Amen.
How do I know what spiritual gift I have?
We are all born with the ability to develop our intuition and receive spiritual direction. The first step is to recognize that you have a talent. The more you accept the fact that you are receiving direction, the more powerful and recognizable your messages will become. If you've had any of the following feelings, try these simple action steps to help them come up in more powerful, positive, and useful ways.