You will hear me refer to this a lot. And when you hear it you will likely find yourself wondering, “wonderful, but how do we do that?” I will ask you time and time again to follow where God is leading us. But how do we know where God is leading? It brings to mind Thomas speaking with Jesus in John 14 where he says, “Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Spiritual discernment is a way of sifting through the choices and challenges of this life in a way that leads us towards God’s desired future for us. It is the process of learning to sift through our internal voices that are echoing and projecting our own desires. It is both simple and challenging. We cannot presume to know with complete certainty what is the will of God. However, with practice and in community we can see the Spirit’s movement over time. Discernment is done with intention. It’s done with connection to the Holy Spirit but also with detachment from our ego and personal desires.
So now we know what it is and even why we would engage in spiritual discernment. How do we engage in spiritual discernment? It is done step by step. First we learn the spiritual tools that will help us to pay attention to God at work in our lives. This is done through a whole host of prayer practices. Just like there are all sorts of different kinds of learners, there are different ways to pray that will fit each of us better. Next we practice discernment or decision making, in the small and ordinary places of our lives. We develop the muscle memory and get practiced at our connected detachment. Only when we have done this in the small things will we be ready to do this in the big areas and big challenges of our lives. If it sounds like a lot, you would be right. It is simply a way of operating that may be entirely new to you. But it is also simple. It is simple principles and practical spirituality for your life.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.