By Father Peter Farrington
“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Spiritual Guidance | Guide Me In The Right Path [P4].
Most of us desire to be guided by God. We do not want to wander aimlessly through life, or make wrong choices. In Guide Me In The Right Path [P1], we discussed that we must be willing to commit our lives to God, to doing his will, and to seeking and following the right path [P2]. And Hear my prayer [P3]. Today we will continue our discussion.
#3 – It is this context of seeking to be more spiritual that we can hope to be guided by God. How can we achieve this? There are several usual means by which God guides us, it seems to me.
Spiritual Guidance – It is good for us all to have someone in the Church with whom we can discuss those things which are on our heart and mind. For most of us this will be our Father of Confession and our Parish Priest. But in the life of the Church there are others who often become for us a useful means of considering our lives and seeking the guidance of God. These others should be those we have come to know as being committed themselves to the spiritual life, and who are able to speak in love and with humility.
It is a blessing when we have a handful of such people in our lives, or even just one person. But we should certainly consider carefully the words of our own priest and spiritual father, and not easily reject his advice. We are not in a relationship of absolute obedience to others, we are not monks or nuns under obedience to an Abbot or Abbess. But we should listen to those who care for us, and have a spiritual concern for us, and discover whether God is speaking to us through them.
How can we tell? We should have a sense of peace about what is said, even if it is difficult for us. A sense that this is right and true, even if it exposes some weakness in us. The more significant the guidance we are seeking, the greater should we expect to have a peace about what is said, even if this requires us to continue in prayer with a great deal of effort, asking that this guidance be confirmed in other ways.
The Bible – I could have included these thoughts with those above concerning prayer. If we are praying very much every day, as we must, then we should also read a portion of Scripture every day, the Gospel for the Liturgy of the day for instance. This is easily available on line or on a smartphone app. When we read a portion of the Gospels, prayerfully and thoughtfully, we may discover that some passage, or sentence, or phrase particularly stands out and seems to speak to us. This is one means by which we may be often guided.
I do not mean that we will always receive some answer to whatever problem with think we are facing, but that God will very often speak to us in the way that we need, for our salvation, when we turn prayerfully and seriously to the Bible.
God is not only concerned with the things that we think are important. He knows what we need to become that unique person he created to live in union with him. This is why we must be careful to listen and seek to obey. For instance, in the Gospel to be read today in the Coptic Orthodox Tradition, I am struck with one passage in particular.
And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Now it would be easy to just leap on this passage and assume it mean that I can ask God for anything and he promises to give it. If we have not become very spiritual this is perhaps what we will read and understand. But if we have begun to be men and women of prayer we will see that we must ask in God’s name and we will ask ourselves whether we are able to ask in his name at all, and what sort of people we must become to speak in such a way. The one who is not spiritual finds himself confirmed in his worldliness.
The one who is becoming spiritual finds himself confirmed in his difficult journey into union with God.
But the passage also says,
In Me you may have peace.
The un-spiritual man complains, I go to Church, where is this peace?! But the spiritual man or woman understands that this is inviting us to seek a closer union with God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we might experience peace, the fruit of the Spirit. Such a reading of Scripture, day by day, does not immediately answer the question – Should I take this new job?!
But God is not a fortune cookie or a horoscope. And as we read a portion of the Gospels each day, or some other passage from the Scriptures, we should expect God to speak to us by the Holy Spirit, making some aspect of our reading stand out, and when he will, speaking directly to our most pressing concerns.
God certainly continues to guide us, as we better understand the word and will of God more easily. To be continued…
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-02-12 from Liverpool, England
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