Exercises for Discernment

Henri Nouwen shares four exercises for deeper discernment. As I stated before it can be difficult for us to honestly face our own inner self. We keep things hidden there that must be exposed if we are to move forward with discernment. Nouwen's first exercise deals with us allowing God to see all our inner thoughts. Nouwen recommends we "Write a personal letter to God openly and honestly looking at the areas of life you are not sure you want God to investigate." This will help us identify some of the areas of our life that we want to keep hidden. Self doesn't like to be exposed and to be made subject to the Holy Spirit.

The second recommendation is to make a list of activities and desires in our life that would be pleasing to the Lord. As God continues to transform our lives, these are the activities we want to pursue. Obedience in these things will bring opportunity to hear God more clearly.

The third exercise involves our spiritual community. We need other people to hold us accountable and encourage us in our spiritual journey. Take time to cultivate these spiritual relationships. Nouwen makes a good point that "discernment performed alone often can become delusion."

Forth, reflect on your own natural pathways to listening to Go. Is it during prayer, meditating on the Word, worship, walking alone? Make time for these activities and think about what God has spoken to you during these times.

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