In the last post in this series, I spoke about taking part in Spiritual Accompaniment. This involves meeting regularly with someone trained to help me reflect on my faith.
This is something I was particularly keen to do in these last few months of training for full-time ministry. The focus over the last 7 years of training (It’s hard to believe so much time has passed!!) has been on Theology; on understanding the Christian faith; on giving me the skills and preparing me for the tasks of ministry. Very little has been done to actually encourage and deepen my faith: that has been left to me.
In some ways, it’s fair enough that I am responsible for my own faith: it is mine after all, and only I know exactly how my faith is developing. On the other hand, it is my faith which gives me a foundation for my ministry: if I didn’t have faith in God, I doubt I’d feel called to serve in His Church. So, faith is an integral part of ministry, but is rarely touched on during the training.
When I was last at spiritual accompaniment, the issue which was most apparent was my desire to hear from God more often. I acknowledged that God is with me and speaks to me: the real issue is that I am not very good at listening to Him! So, my spiritual accompanier asked me to do two prayer exercises in order to try and find God and hear from Him more. Here they are, if you want to try them:
The Prayer of Awareness
Find a place here you feel relaxed; if you wish, light a candle or lay a symbol in front of you. Settle yourself down and ask God for a light on the day.
Slowly think back over the day and allow the moments you enjoyed t emerge. Ask God to show you the people, the moods, the feelings. What circumstances brought life to you and for which you want to give thanks? Ask God what is being revealed. Give thanks.
Again, look over the day and recall the moments when you felt you were not at your best. What were the moods or feelings behind those times? Again, ask God what is being revealed. Ask God were you need forgiveness and ask for it.
Look forward to tomorrow and ask for God’s help. Entrust yourself and the future to God.
The Prayer of Silence
Spend at least one minute a day in silence. Try and keep your mind clear. When distractions come, acknowledge them, and put them to one side and continue in silence.
It may be helpful to focus on a particular word during this time. Either choose a word or ask God for a word. Listen for God speaking to you as you keep your mind clear and focus on Him.
I have not done well with the second exercise yet. But the first has been of great benefit far. I have discovered that I am more aware of God and feel closer to Him when I am:
- Happy or having fun;
- With people I love/like/feel safe with;
- Have something for which I am thankful.
This has been wonderfully liberating: I am more aware of God being with me during the positive aspects of life. Also encouraging is the sense that God is never far from me: I may not be aware of Him speaking, but it’s like a comfortable silence between friends.
The next step is to bring this back to spiritual accompaniment, and see where it takes me.