What is Spritual Direction?
Spiritual direction is a ministry of being fully and prayerfully present with another person as he or she seeks God amidst everyday life. It is a welcoming, confidential, and safe place to explore one’s human questions, concerns, doubts, struggles, and joys of life with God. Christian spiritual direction is a ministry grounded in biblical principles that helps an individual live into one’s calling as a follower of Christ. It can be vital for all who desire to continue in their faith journey in the process of transformation into Christ-likeness. Occurring in the early Church and throughout the history of the Church, spiritual direction is a way to enter into one’s inner spiritual life with God.
A spiritual director listens carefully and prayerfully, reflects back what a person is saying, and asks questions with the hope of seeing and hearing God. A spiritual director is trained to listen and be with another person as he or she shares the story of their life with God. Together they seek to notice God’s presence and working, as well as one’s personal responses. The spiritual director seeks to listen and be attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life.
“The phrase "spiritual direction" is a misnomer in a way, because it is not so much about being directive as it is about being open, receptive, aware of and responsive to the movement of the Spirit in a person’s life. It is understood that the Holy Spirit is the true director, Advocate, or Counselor given to lead us into truth as we are able to bear it (John 15, 16). The director is present to assist another in paying attention to the invitations of the Holy Spirit and to support he or she in making a faithful response.”
Ruth Haley Barton, The Transforming Center www.transformingcenter.org.
It is also helpful to explain what spiritual direction is not. The difference between it and counseling, for example, lies primarily in the focus. Psychological counseling is concerned with helping persons solve personal and interpersonal issues, while the intention in spiritual direction is not to help solve a problem, teach, or give advice, but rather to look for God’s presence and movement amidst both the struggles and joys within a person’s life experience. This perspective invites an individual into deeper relationship with God in the midst of whatever he or she is experiencing.
In addition although the focus and attention of spiritual direction is looking for God’s presence in another person’s life, the spiritual director receives much from this relationship, at times being profoundly affected by what is shared. Again, the center of attention is not the director, yet it can be a mutually beneficial relationship with God. Though the attention remains on the other, it is a shared experience.
What to Expect in Spiritual Direction.
A spiritual director and a person seeking God more in their life come together for a focused, purposeful, and prayerful conversation.
Prayer is offered in the beginning for the purpose of preparation to create a sacred space to be present to God’s presence and working.
The bulk of the time is spent listening to whatever the person brings to the session. The director listens with the Holy Spirit, asking clarifying and reflective questions and generally not sharing much about him or her-self, as the focus of spiritual direction is the person receiving direction. Allowing individuals to come to their own conclusions with God seems best. People tend to bring to spiritual direction bring their struggles and joys in work and relationships, and their sense of where God is in all of life. Sometimes difficult struggles, questions, or seeking God’s will are also brought to a direction session.
In the beginning, some teaching may be involved, depending on the individual, but over time this lessens.
Occasionally, the director may suggest Scriptures to pray with or, spiritual practices to try, or may suggest the individual return in prayer to what he/she has shared.
A spiritual direction time usually ends with prayer, by either one or both people, depending upon the needs and desires of the individual.
Presence Spiritual Direction is a ministry offering spiritual direction. The cost for a spiritual direction session is $50 with cash or checks (made out to “Colorado Spiritual Direction”) accepted. This fee is based upon current cost averages for spiritual directors, based on the education, training, and experience of the director, and in order to benefit the larger ministry and process of spiritual direction. It is understood that some people may not be able to afford this cost; for those individuals there will be a prayerfully agreed upon affordable amount.
Presence Spiritual Direction specifically serves those interested in spiritual direction in the north metro Denver and surrounding areas. Spiritual direction takes place best in a quiet safe environment free from distractions, which is usually set up by the director. Currently, meeting spaces are available in Broomfield and Denver.
Spiritual direction normally lasts around an hour. People who seek spiritual direction typically meet once a month or every six weeks, depending on the needs and desires of the person receiving direction and a mutually agreed upon time with the director.
Again, the purpose of spiritual direction is to pursue a more intimate relationship with God and to recognize His loving presence and working and outworking in one’s life.
If interested in considering or pursuing spiritual direction please contact:
Janet Wineman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Are The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises?
A specific area that I have received training in and have personal experience with is the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. I want to offer a brief explanation about the Exercises and how they relate to spiritual direction.
The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises came about through Ignatius of Loyola in the early 16th century, and since then many in the church have benefited from this particular prayer practice. Some go through the Exercises in a 30-day retreat, but most pursue them amidst daily life, committing to praying with the Exercises in a structured way for an hour a day for a seven to nine month period. The structure of the Exercises consists of meditations, prayers, and practices to help a person deepen their relationship with God. They are centered in the gospel accounts of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ and follow the church calendar. Spiritual Direction is an essential aspect of the Exercises because each week a director and the person praying with the Exercises meet for spiritual direction to process the person’s prayer experience. Needless to say, the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises require discipline and a spiritual commitment, yet praying with the Exercises can be a rich experience with God. They can also be a means to a greater interior knowledge of God’s will and particular vocation for one’s life. They can be a way to draw closer to God, become more attentive, open, and responsive to God, and to deepen one’s understanding of God’s love. In addition, the Exercises can be a process for growth in discernment, spiritual growth, and transformation in one’s life.
“I chose to seek spiritual direction, initially, because I knew that I would need a traveling companion as I journeyed through the Ignatian Exercises. Having completed the Ignatian Exercises, I continue to seek spiritual direction because I have found it essential in my spiritual journey to have another walking along side me affirming that what I am hearing from the Lord, she is hearing as well.” -Charlotte W.
What Others Say About Spiritual Direction.
"Spiritual direction is a sacred space, carved by my director and myself, where I can encounter God in new ways, hear His voice, and grow in understanding. In a busy and consuming culture, spiritual direction provides a time and space to connect with God and learn to sense His presence in new ways." -Elaine H.
"For me, spiritual direction is a safe place of exploration, discernment and gaining deeper understanding of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a place where I can share what God is doing in my life and gain perspective and insight about the stirrings in my soul. It has been a beautifully restorative process where I have been able to work through a season of suffering and gain deeper conviction about God's tender love for me. Through spiritual direction, I have gained confirmation and wisdom regarding different areas God has been calling me into and I always seem to walk away encouraged and more fully convicted of God's love and perfect plan." -Rebecca Y.
“In receiving direction, I am “forced” to confront God’s love because the reality of His presence is both great and undeserved. More specifically, my spiritual director asks questions about my resistance to accepting God’s unconditional love and invitation for intimacy. I have needed my spiritual director to ask me questions that have forced me to explore areas--caves that were previously unknown. Like a companion holding my hand on the journey, she has showed me the way to these dark caves that hold essential tools for my journey. She helps push aside stones at the entry way so that the light may penetrate the darkness in the cave. Spiritual direction has been a lifeline and nourishment to my soul.” -Elaine H.
“Spiritual Direction for me is bringing my experiences of God in my daily and spiritual life to my Director for wisdom, clarity, concern, and God's forward leaning love in my life. I bring them to the surface to be shared and looked at clearly from another’s perspective so that God may reveal even deeper understanding and love in my life.” -Melody F.
“My time in spiritual direction was a sacred time to focus and reflect with someone else what the Lord had been prompting, speaking, guiding, and leading towards in my heart and spirit. This intentional focus on the inner life often gets overlooked in the busyness of my day. I found that a carefully listening guide can help discern the Holy Spirit to bring a more expansive sense of God's character, a deeper realization of my true self in Christ, realignment of my heart with God's heart, and healing from wounds from the past. Leo Tolstoy said, "Our true life is not this external, material life that passes before our eyes here on earth, but the inner life of our spirit, for which the visible life serves only as a scaffolding--a necessary aid to our spiritual growth." During spiritual direction, this deeply important inner life was nurtured and developed.” -Karen A.
As a part of my development as a spiritual director I receive on going supervision, which helps me to be more fully present to those with whom I meet for direction and which facilitates my development as a spiritual director. In addition to offering spiritual direction, I also offer supervision for spiritual directors and in August 2016 completed supervision training through the Lanteri Center in Denver, Colorado.
If you are a spiritual director interested in receiving supervision, please contact me at Janet@presencespiritualdirection.com.