Spiritual Direction 101

In John chapter 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well and engages her in a conversation. His questions prompt her desire to be replenished with a relationship with God, the Living Water. As she contemplates what is “truly good,” she realizes that this connection is the start to knowing Christ.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
—John 4:10

This story is one example in the Bible where a spiritual relationship guides someone to explore, engage, and rest in the presence of God. Perhaps you are familiar with intentional partner relationships such as pastoral care, counseling or accountability. But, are you familiar with spiritual direction? Author Richard Foster says, “Spiritual direction involves a process through which one person helps another person understand what God is doing and saying.” This is much like Jesus and the Samaritan woman as He helped her process what God was doing in her life.

At this point you may be asking, “what is spiritual direction?” Spiritual direction is a sacred relationship with a trained spiritual director. Through training and discernment to listen to God, the director accompanies the individual, known as the directee, as he or she navigates their experience and relationship with God. The purpose is to guide a person as they listen and connect their true self with what God is stirring from within them. When Jesus asked the Samaritan woman a direct question, she responded with more questions to seek clarity. Jesus guided her thinking about the answer. As she reflected, she discovered that she knew the answers all along.


How a spiritual direction session works

A spiritual direction session is an intentional and sacred time of meeting in the presence of God in a quiet space, typically for an hour, once a month. Jesus’ meeting with the woman at the well also created a sacred space. The relationship is fostered by noticing, attending, recognizing, growing, and learning how to receive God’s voice, union, and experience in the life of the directee.

Spiritual direction is not counseling. It is an experience of being present, listening, praying, and being guided by God. Like counseling, the relationship is confidential, attentive, and helps to explore emotions and responses. In direction, it is with God working in the life of the directee.

Spiritual direction is for already mature Christians as well as those who seek deeper, more intimate relationships with God. It is not only for the “happy Christian.” We search for answers to the situations in our lives, our heart’s desires, and the need to hear from God when we cry out. Spiritual direction is a practice that can help find God in the joys of life and in the moments of despair.

Consider these questions if you think spiritual direction may be of interest to you. 

  • How would you describe your current walk with the Lord?
  • How do you feel about being attentive to the presence of the Lord in your life with a director?
  • Are you aware of God’s voice, stirring or movement in your life?
  • What do you sense about receiving or resisting what God is doing in your life? 

Spiritual direction can be a life–giving, fruitful, enriching experience. It is an opportunity to sit in the presence of the Lord with someone who is solely focused on you in prayer. Take time to pray and see if this type of spiritual formation is a practice you would like to take.

by Joanna Polarek

Looking for a spiritual director?

Below are a few reliable sites with spiritual directors who have earned their certificate in spiritual direction and can connect you with a director, depending on your preferences.

Leadership Transformation Inc.
LTI will help you listen, equip you to discern, invite you to act, encourage you to pursue God’s unique will for you, your team, and your ministry.

Grafted Life Ministries supports churches and individuals with resources that help people root their lives in Christ’s transforming love.

To read about a personal experience with Spiritual Direction, check
out the Spiriutal Life Development’s First Series: Spiritual Direction.

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