Ignatius Spiritual Disciplines of Discernment

Most of us have to make choices from knowing what to do in the future, which spouse to marry, what job to take, etc. We live in a place where the dish of choices are laid before us. What do we do?

  1. First, the best discipline is to stop and not to act but to listen to the voice of God. This is the classic and most basic of all disciplines called solitude but it is truly needed in our rush and bustle lifestyle. The great writers of old have reminded us that this is essential. I am reminded by the disciples who waited at Jerusalem for power,and Elijah who seeked after the still small voice of God
  2. Three great theologians named Wesley, Ignatius and Jonathan Edwards were instrumental in taking notice of our spiritual hearts and feelings rather then rational. I think we know how to rationally make decisions but most decisions need to take into other accounts like intuition and feelings, and not only facts. The dismiss feelings is to be cold and robotic. We are humans that need to take into account everything. Banner says that, “Ignatius of Loyola notes that sin is unwillingness to trust that what God wants is our deepest happiness. Until I am absolutely convinced of this I will do everything I can to keep my hands on control of my life, because I think I know better than God what I need for my fulfillment.” God does care about us fully, even the feelings of our heart.

The practices required is to

  • • taking time to listen to God; not hurrying to make a decision•
  • seeking to bring both head and heart into alignment with God
  • asking for help, counsel and guidance
  • going on a retreat to gain perspective and listen to God
  • attending to the desires God has placed deeply inside you
  • naming your addictions, predilections, prejudices, unbelief and so on in order to understand how these play into making decisions

This is all from discernment, from learning to hear from God. There’s alot more to do then just waiting in silience; however that is an important part. We also need to be proactive in taking account the feelings and the rational thoughts, as well as seeking counsel and searching scripture. Scripture helps us to obtain the values of the kingdom that are principals such as considering other people when we make the decision and considering the values of the collective or family instead of individual desires. Discernment is more holistic.

“We all have to offer our choice to God. Pray for wisdom and the freedom of the Spirit to blowthrough Wait. Ask God to bring your heart and head and spirit into agreement. Do they all confirm this course of action?”

The Holy Spirit is more closer then we think in discernment. His presence and his power enable us to do more then we think we can. He also reminds us to think higher and raise our standards in this regard.

Of all the spiritual disciplines that are underrepresented and hardly spoken about is this discipline of discernment. We can see clearly that leaders fail to make the decisions or they aren’t even in the position to make these difficult choices. We would be wise to learn from history and all avenues of discernment.


Discernment from Dr. Gordon Smith

Ignatius Spiritual disciplines

Wesley quadrilateral.

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