Discerning God’s will in making decisions is the most important thing we do each day — both personally and in our leadership of others. Assuming that you are committed to the overall direction of Scripture and are willing to do whatever God asks, the Examen developed by Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) is the best means I know to discern God’s will.
God speaks to us is through our deepest feelings and yearnings in what Ignatius called “consolations” and “desolations.” Consolations are those experiences that fill us with joy, life, energy and peace. Desolations are those that drain us and feel like death. Consolations connect us with ourselves, others and God. Desolations disconnect us. The process below is one simple way of discovering the interior movements of God through which He is speaking and leading.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.1 John 4:1
Silence: 1 minute. Be still and become aware of God’s presence.
As you consider the activities and conversations of your day, ask yourself these two questions:
1. Where did I experience feelings of joy and peace? Where did I sense connection with God (consolation)?
2. Where did I experience sadness, apathy, and a sense of life draining out of me? Where did I sense disconnection from God (desolation)?
- Lord, open my eyes and ears to be more honest with myself, about what I really want for myself. Show me what has been happening to me this day, the ways I have experienced Your love and the choices I have made that are inadequate responses to You.
Silence: 2 minutes