“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts” Mother Teresa
I believe that you have a deep inner awareness, an inner GPS, that is always guiding you. I believe that this is the Holy Spirit within you. As such, Jesus would often isolate himself to pray in order to get away from the crowds and even his disciples. His custom of silence is something that we should all try to practice within our lives.
Being able to listen and discern the Holy Spirit will help you immensely in all areas of your life, but especially within your relationships. Asking for wisdom and guidance within your dating life will help you confidently follow each step of the path before you with intention and wisdom so that you can align it with the will of God.
In the Angelus address, Pope Francis says, “May Mary help us to become increasingly men and women of conscience, free in our conscience because it is in the conscience that dialogue with God takes place; men and women, who can hear God’s voice and follow it with determination, who can listen to God’s voice, and follow it with decision.”
We can only hear the voice of the Holy Spirit by becoming silent. Below are three ways to help you practice inner silence so you can hear the voice of God and follow it with direction.
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says that meditation is, above all, a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking (Meditation 2705). It is through the process of meditation that we are able to listen for how the Holy Spirit is guiding us.
Meditation can help you process and release past negative feelings of anger and resentment that you may still be carrying from your last relationships. Getting rid of these stale emotions will be a valuable tool as you begin dating again. By releasing them you are undoubtedly freeing yourself from the baggage that would have no doubt tainted your future relationships.
However, most people grow overwhelmed by the thought of meditation. There is no right or wrong way to meditate! As long as you are practicing, you are doing it right.
What meditation is not:
Meditation does not mean that you stop thoughts from entering your mind. This is impossible!
What meditation is:
Meditation is a practice of refocusing your breath after a thought enters your mind. A thought can be compared to a cloud, you can acknowledge it’s there but not engage with it. Let it float through your mind. By doing so, you are practicing non judgmental awareness and patience. Try to accept the present moment as is.
Start meditating for five minutes each day. After you are comfortable with this level, continue to increase the minutes by five until you are meditating for half an hour every day. As you grow in your meditation practice, your mind will become increasingly quiet as you learn to ignore intrusive, negative, ruminating thoughts. You will also notice other benefits such as more awareness and better sleep as well as an inner peace that will welcome silence more easily.
St. Ignatius of Loyola focused a great deal of his discernment on scripture and imaginary prayer.
Read scripture and afterward sit in silence for a few minutes. Was there anywhere in the passage that resonated with you? How so? Sit with it and discern how the Holy Spirit is calling to your heart.
Another option is to practice imaginary prayer. Imagine yourself as part of the story within the bible. How would you feel? How would you act if you were part of the passage?
Scripture and imaginary prayer are powerful ways of invoking the Holy Spirit and opening your heart to being lead in the right direction.
3. Contemplative Prayer
This kind of prayer is powerful to listen for the Holy Spirit and where He is calling you. This encourages obedience to follow the will of God and takes great faith.
A simple way of practicing contemplation prayer is through journaling.
- Where is He calling you?
- Who is He calling you toward?
- How is He calling you there?
- What steps do you need to follow?
- What do you need to detach from or let go of?
Notice afterward how the Holy Spirit is inspiring you to act. This could be through a feeling, a whisper that comes in your own voice, or even from a message from a friend.
Set up a routine and start practicing sitting in silence. Choosing the same time everyday will help you build this new habit more easily. Be patient with yourself, sometimes it is a challenging process to form a consistent habit, but the work will be worth it.
“Only in silence can the word of God find a home in us as it did in Mary. Without silence, one does not hear, does not listen, does not receive a word” Pope Benedict XVI