Spiritual Guidance

Psalm 46:10

"Be still and know that I am God."

Joshua 1

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 40

 1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Romans 8:29-30

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Psalm 37:4

4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 7:7

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Romans 7:14-25

14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Psalm 8

1 LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? 5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

1 Samuel 3

Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Jeremiah 1:7-8

7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

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Spiritual Guidance

Do not continue on this spiritual journey alone. If you do, you are in for a world of trouble. You will get off track and be deceived by evil. You need someone to guide you. Through the years a person in this role has been called many things: spiritual guide, soul friend, spiritual companion, and spiritual director. The name is not important, but the relationship is vital. I have chosen the name spiritual friend after Tilden Edward's book, Spiritual Friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction, 1980.
A spiritual friend is essential to spiritual growth. Thomas Merton said: "The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet interior glow. The sweeter and the warmer the feeling is the more he is convinced of his own infallibility. And if the sheer force of his own self-confidence communicates itself to other people and gives them the impression that he really is a saint, such a man can wreck a whole city or a religious order or even a nation: and the world is covered with scars that have been left in its flesh by visionaries like these" (1949, p. 118).
Henri Nouwen warns, "But word and silence both need guidance. How do we know that we are not deluding ourselves that we are not selecting those words that best fit our passions that we are not just listening to the voice of our own imagination? Many have quoted the scriptures and many have heard voices and seen visions in silence, but only few have found their way to God. Who can determine if his feelings and insights are leading him in the right direction? Our God is greater than our own heart and mind, and too easily we are tempted to make our heart's desires and our mind's speculations into the will of God. Therefore, we need a guide, a director, a counselor who helps us to distinguish between the voice of God and all the other voices coming from our own confusion or from dark powers far beyond our control. We need someone who encourages us when we are tempted to give it all up, to forget it all, and to walk away in despair. We need someone who discourages us when we move too rashly in unclear directions or hurry proudly to a nebulous goal. We need someone who can suggest to us when to read and when to be silent, which words to reflect upon and what to do when silence creates much fear and little peace" (1975 p. 97-98).
A spiritual friend should have a genuine relationship with God that you respect. A relationship with a spiritual friend is an intimate relationship that leads to spiritual growth. Even with this guide, you will falter at times, never completely understanding the ways of God. God is the perfect communicator, but you are not perfect. God’s message has to be decoded correctly. God delivers the communication accurately, but you can misinterpret the communication.
St. John of the Cross recommends that a spiritual friend be listened to as if he or she is God. This will prevent you from going off on your own and doing harm to yourself and others. Thomas Merton writes, "There is a tradition in the monastic life of the 'spiritual father,' who may be the abbot or another experienced monk capable of guiding the beginner in the ways of prayer, and of immediately detecting any sign of misguided zeal and wrong-headed effort. Such a one should be listened to and obeyed, especially when he cautions against the use of certain methods and practices, which he sees to be out of place and harmful in a particular case, or when he declines to accept certain 'experiences' as evidence of progress" (Merton 1969 p. 42).
God's revelations will not always turn out according to your expectations. You should not act on them blindly. You may not understand the message. Your spiritual friend will help you. You must tell your friend everything that comes from God. Describe each of your experiences in detail. Often you will make mistakes. You will think God means one thing when he means another. God told Abraham that he was going to give him the land of the Canaanites. Abraham had every expectation that this revelation was going to come true and four hundred years later it did come true. Abraham did not see God’s plan come true although he certainly expected to. His descendants saw the prophecy come true. God does things in his own time not in ours. We have to learn how to be patient and trust that God’s words will come true, but they will come true in God’s perfect time not ours.

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