“Let me pray about that...”: The Art of Discernment in Prayer  

Welcome to this five-part video series on the art of discernment in prayer.  The series is meant to help us learn to hear God’s “voice” as it comes to us in the silent places of our hearts and through our interactions and experiences in the world.  We’ll try especially to answer questions such as, “How can we bring God into the realm of our decision-making?” “What does it mean to pray about a choice we are facing?” and “What do we hope or expect will happen when we do seel God’s guidance in our decision-making?

Presenter: Br. David Vryhof, SSJE is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was life-professed in 1997 and has served the Community as Assistant Superior as well as Novice Guardian (a post in which he served for a total of 17 years!). His specific interests include Ignatian Spirituality, Spiritual Discernment, U.S. and world politics, as well as issues surrounding minorities in the U.S. such as African-Americans, native peoples, LGBTQ people and those living in poverty. He is currently studying Spanish, and enjoys exercising, reading, and watching movies. David is credited with being the most committed sports fan in the Community and loves all the Boston teams.

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Join the Conversation:

We look forward to having you join us for the entire series, and welcome feedback and conversation below.

Episodes

Part 1: What is Spiritual Discernment?

In this first video, Br. David will be introducing the topic of “spiritual discernment,” drawing especially on the story of Samuel’s call in I Samuel 3.  As you watch these 30-minute videos, we welcome you to pause the tape to allow space to reflect on these ideas on your own, or to go back and listen again.

Captions are available on each video (click the CC button to turn these on).  Text transcripts and audio versions are also available each week.

Part 2: What do we mean when we speak of a ‘vocation’ or ‘calling’ in life?

Starting with Walter Brueggemann's idea, "... vocation means finding a purpose for being in the world that is related to the purposes of God," Br. David Vryhof guides us as we consider our calling. He leads us through different levels at which God calls us, and identifies common ways in which God's call works. Importantly, God's call is continuous and ongoing, and always a service or benefit to others. Join us in this second session in the five part series. You may leave reflections here in the comment section below.

Captions are available on each video (click the CC button to turn these on).  Text transcripts and audio versions are also available each week.

Part 3: What can we learn from Jesus’ sense of his own vocation/calling?

Looking at a few key stories in Luke's Gospel, Br. David Vryhof presents Jesus' early life and ministry as our first glimpse into his calling into the purposes of God. God calling Jesus to his ministry with the words "in him I am well pleased," sends us also along our journey of vocation or calling. From this place of being rooted in God's love, we also can face and resist the temptation to use our gifts for ourselves. Join for this third video in the five part series where we journey with Jesus revealing his vocation, and learn how it closely parallels our own. You may leave reflections here in the comment section below.

Captions are available on each video (click the CC button to turn these on).  Text transcripts and audio versions are also available each week.

Part 4: How can we discern our own vocation or calling in life?

Our ideas of God's will or how to find God's will can be misguided or misdirected by other forces in our world. Looking at both obstacles to hearing God's voice and at signs of God's call in our own histories, we can take confident strides to discern our own calling that is related to the purposes of God. Join Br. David in this fourth part of the five part series in spiritual discernment. You may leave reflections here in the comment section below.

Captions are available on each video (click the CC button to turn these on).  Text transcripts and audio versions are also available each week.

Part 5: Is there a reliable method for discerning important life choices in prayer?

Discernment is commonly defined in two ways: 1. to perceive or to recognize, or 2. to separate, mentally, one thing from another or others. As we discern spiritually, we want to gather important moments of discernment in our past in order to look for God's work in our lives. Br. David leads us through the discernment process as taught by St. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises. These two methods of analyzing the choices and imaginative prayer exercises provide us a method for discernment towards the purposes of God. Join us for this final part of the five part series in spiritual discernment. You may leave reflections here in the comment section below.

Captions are available on each video (click the CC button to turn these on).  Text transcripts and audio versions are also available each week.

10 Comments

  1. Connie on December 17, 2022 at 20:16

    I am just now coming to these guidance lessons at the age of 66. I am at the Generativity vs. Stagnation stage of life and need to make some positive decisions in accordance with GOD’s will for my life. ie. tasks that he prepared beforehand for me to accomplish. I’ve been wallowing in some self pity and darkness. These have been a lifeline. I pray that at this late stage in my life…. I finally…. finally make choices that are pleasing to my Creator. Thank you.

  2. Dennis Chew on March 20, 2022 at 01:51

    This was an amazing insight to the questions I have…not only for another career…but in my personal life now that I am a bona fide senior…and looking for value in what I do from here on in…mahalo plenty

  3. Caroline McGill Connell on January 7, 2022 at 07:22

    Thank you, Br. David! I see clearly why I was to receive your guidance on discernment especially lesson 5.
    The methods about being indifferent, embracing freedom and openness in our considerations and evaluations
    with prayer, if selected to do a job, is a plan I shall embrace along with the 6 steps of analysis.
    Exactly what I needed to hear at this time! Peace.

  4. Carney Ivy on November 27, 2021 at 07:28

    Thank you Brother David for this series. It is extremely easy for me to stray from my path because the effects of society are tremendous! I definitely feel called to do much of my work, but I am constantly distracted. Having choices and discerning which choice is the more appropriate for a particular time and place presents challenges. Fortunately, I have my quiet times with the Brothers and a Spiritual Director that keep me grounded. I know that I cannot do this world on my own. It is also freeing to think that most of my choices are not a right or wrong choice. Notably, SOME have been clearly wrong, but usually, they are merely choices. The more intentional tend to be the better choices; however, I have had quick impulses that have been productive and delightful. Either way, each day presents new opportunities from which I can choose a path to follow. Some days I do a better job than others. Bless you and all the Brothers at SSJE for your service.

  5. Jaan Sass on November 15, 2021 at 20:13

    I am looking for the second half of the course. I have to admit most of the time it has not been clear for me but more of the third time. I have also made choices that were bad out of my emotions thinking the feeling I was getting were coming from God. I distrust my emotions and use the third time the most.

  6. James Rowland on November 13, 2021 at 09:02

    Thank you Br David for a thoughtful journey into the way we can strive to fulfill what God wants in our lives. Your messages deserve repeated viewing no matter at what point in our lives we find ourselves. I followed along with my St Ignatius edition of Personal Writings in your last session. I look forward to Part 2 in this series. Blessings, James

  7. Jaan Sass on November 11, 2021 at 13:05

    looking back at different times in my life I can see two themes one to help others and my regrets do to attachment to sin and issues with mental illness. I was raised with the idea that God had one plan for you and was never really able to find it or live into it. Thank you for for lesson number 4 ti reinforces what I have come to believe that God know all the possible choices and wants the best ones for us the choices are always changing based on what we choose and it is not set in stone.

  8. Jaan Sass on November 8, 2021 at 22:01

    Just listened to three and the part about recognizing that God love us is so difficult for me. I know he does intellectually but because of circumstances and life it is hard to believe it sometimes. It was great to here again.

  9. James Rowland on October 21, 2021 at 21:36

    Br David
    Your messages so far have had a timely impact on me. I was especially interested in the idea of vocation or calling as presented in part 2. This I have experienced as constant and changing as I go through life’s “chances and changes” and I become better at listening to what I feel God is moving me toward. On my first visit to SSJE (I was received into the Fellowship), I awoke one morning at 5am and had a memorable conversation with God about vocation. Love and loving kindness is the foundation no matter what you do or who you are and the love of God is the beginning. I’ll never forget this because it was raining and I was looking out the window at the tower of the monastery as the light of dawn brought it into view.
    These moments for me were life changing.

  10. Suzanne F Colburn on October 12, 2021 at 16:31

    Thank you Brother David. Just to hear your voice gives me a time to feel connected to you all and to sink down into the silence of being at the Monastery.

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