In January and February I’m speaking on Discernment at least once per week.
A most common trap often gets us as we endeavor to discern God’s will in our lives: We get hung up on technique.
In addition, Technique itself appears to be personally thwarted by God.
For example, have you ever tried to pray in a new way (say, “centering prayer” or “praying in a labyrinth” or “lectio divina”) and found that after a wonderful first experience it just fell flat the next time? Inexplicably.
It’s a hard lesson to absorb but techniques do not produce a fulfulling expeiernce with God. It is a grace of God that may give us profound experiences, but God mixes it up.
We’ll deceive ourselves sometimes and try to reproduce something when other things need to be learned. When they don’t go as expected we feel the gap. Sometimes it makes us frustrated or confused.
Just like we wouldn’t want to be treated like a vending machine…God doesn’t appreciate it either. If a good friend knew she could borrow your car by bringing you coffeecake because the two activities were tied together last week, it would be really rude for her to expect that a simple donation of coffeecake equalled having car keys in-hand. Treating the relationship as a mechanized transaction undermines the intimacy of the relationship, and can even damage it. No bueno.
Just waiting for God without his felt presence is a gift. (maybe read that again)
It’s just a dry gift when God doesn’t “show up” in a way we expect…But the dryness or silence doesn’t make our other experience untrue, or the present one less important.
On the contrary, many claim that they have more blessing and insight once they’ve been through some sort of waiting. (Though it can be no fun at the time.)
So if your prayers feel like they bounce off the ceiling …remember nothing is wrong (necessarily)…. The dark / obscure time, or the time when experience isn’t there are an invitation from God to encounter him differently. I’m in this season right now.
Our theology can pick up where it seems our experience has left off. The two should be nicely tied together anyway. Knowing who God is important. He is always working. Just let him do that. Breathe a little easier!
Is your prayer life dry or full experientially these days? Let me know.
To read other articles on Discernment in this Series, click the tag near the title of this post that reads “DISCERNMENT”.
(Check out The Cadre in the tab above. There’s just about 1 week left to get in on that!)