Ask a Priest

Discerning God’s Voice

Sep 16, 2014

I feel like I have hit a stumbling block on my discernment journey, I have been told time and time again I need to listen to what God has to say, but I have no clue if he is ever actually speaking to me.

I use scripture and reflect on that, I pray with silence in adoration, but I can’t tell if I am ever been spoke to, or if ita just my own thoughts, or numerous other confusing and distracting issues.

So were is gods voice?

Asked at 02:07 am on September 16th 2014

Dear Patrick:

It can be difficult to understand what God wants you to do. It would help if you had a spiritual director, or at least a priest to whom you go to confession to regularly.

Added to this your own personal prayer and reflection are very important and it can sometimes take quite some time to determine where your future lies.

Your own discernment of your spiritual state is another way to understand what God wants you to do. Whether you feel at peace with some particular option or otherwise can be a useful guide.

You might find the information on this Website based on Ignatian spirituality to be helpful.

Replied at 03:22 am on September 16th 2014

Hi Patrick. Big issue to me -and, i suspect, many others too, judging from the abundant literature on the subject including Ignatian. Just hoping some thoughts and experience may help…

At time of adoration when i don’t feel like hearing anything, i try to remember what Mother Teresa told Dan Rather. What do you tell Jesus when you pray? he asked. I listen, she said. And what does He tell you? He listens, she replied… I try to adjust my expectations to the possibility of His simply enjoying our together-ness, without the need for words, like people in love. If no image of what people in love being together in silence comes to mind, one can imagine Mary and Jesus during one of His visit to the village of Betthany.

At other times, when i do come to Him in need of guidance, or just needs, my expectations can be high, I’d readily admit to all kinds of emotions, including sadness, disillusion, etc. when He keeps His seemingly usual silence then or even after some time, but also, I must, to many times novel and positive ideas pop into my mind when I least expected.

I guess it’s all about managing our expectations, and at the same time keep our mind and eyes open for all possible ways, not just hearing or feeling, He can get through to us.


Replied at 07:51 pm on September 18th 2014

Dear Patrick

God is always communicating with us, even if He doesn’t seem to be communicating on the issue closest to our hearts. Sunrise and sunset speak to us of God’s beauty, His gentleness and His ordering of all things for our good.

All of the decisions we make have consequences. The bigger the decision, the bigger the consequences. Those decisions are even more important to God than they are to us, and He gives a deep peace and certainty to those who have found His will for them and have decided to follow it.

We can normally see just the decision in front of us, but God can see the preparation needed to make that decision last and bear good fruit for 40 years or more. Trust Him, when you are ready to hear what He wants – you will know without a shadow of a doubt.

In the meantime practice letting God be Lord of your life in the small decisions of life by praying prior to every decision. Then practice acting on the small promptings in your life. If you start thinking about an old friend that you haven’t thought about for ages. Stop and pray for them, and try and get in contact with them. Pay attention to the people God brings into your life and the conversations you have with them. If a relative or stranger starts waxing lyrical about how much reading the Confessions of St Augustine helped them – and you get excited listening to them, go and get a copy and read it. Pay attention to the thoughts that remain with you long after you have heard a homily or read a book, and write them down. If every homily you hear for several weeks no matter which church you go to is about personal prayer, then there is a message there for you to act on.

Replied at 12:06 pm on September 24th 2014

Dear Patrick,

my opinion: do not wait necessary to hear his voice directly.. GOD speeks to us through friends, brothers ,mothers, fathers, priests , situations, oportunities etc… just we have to enter his will like mother mary & st Joseph have done and after we know that it was GOD’s plan for us just be positive and open your heart you will touch him

Replied at 09:24 am on December 17th 2014

Dear Patrick

If you have a few minutes watch these 4 short animations from the Missionaries of God’s Love. They are all about discernment, and I’ve found them very helpful.

Replied at 02:28 am on December 27th 2014