Session Three - Discernment

Through our personal relationship with God, discernment means sensing when our choices move us towards or away from deepening our relationship with God.

Discernment looks at who I am before the Lord and how my living rings true with that identity.

The question at the heart of discernment is not: “What am I to do?” but rather, “Am I in tune with the movement of the God in my life as I consider a specific action?”

The goal of discernment is to find God, and it is in finding God that we discover God’s will for our life. Far too often, we seek what God wants us to do, rather than seeking God alone.

There is no magic method to unveil God’s plan for your life. The process of discernment is opening your life to God’s plan for you, and living the life of the Risen Lord. Discernment begins with God’s Word and prayer, and is an on-going process of transformation. Over time, we can identify the emotions and affections that may be preventing us from hearing God’s Word.

Basic Assumptions about the Discernment Process:

  1. God continually works to draw believers closer into a love relationship.
  2. God speaks to us through our intellect (in the Old Testament this appears as “heart”) and through affections (emotions).
  3. Evil is a reality in our world, yet God can work in all circumstances.
  4. For believers involved in discernment, the choices are between multiple good choices, not between good and evil.
  5. Self-knowledge is crucial to discernment.
  6. Discernment is communal, because other believers can help us hear from God.
  7. Discernment is not achieved in isolation, but rather through authentic and mutually beneficial relationships with other believers.
  8. God gives spiritual “consolation” in order to strengthen us and draw us closer in relationship. With consolation, we often experience the emotions of joy, peace, power and gentleness, in addition to faith, hope and love.
  9. God allows spiritual “desolation” in order to purify us from excessive attachments. In desolation, we experience feelings of anger, fear, restlessness and anxiety.

As you continue to pray about the discernment process, you will notice traits of a discerning person, in yourself and others.

Characteristics of a Discerning Person

  1. A hunger for God.
  2. An obedience to act when one hears from the Lord.
  3. A trust in the God who is always with us.
  4. An eagerness to know God’s will.
  5. A patience for the revelation of God’s will.
  6. A trust that the Holy Spirit does speak.
  7. Knowing who we are before the Lord.
  8. Knowing who God is on a personal level to me.

Concluding Thoughts

The path to living a God-centered life can be accompanied with feelings of confusion. Discernment clears the path to hear from God by doing two things. First, be a person of prayer, reflecting on who you are in the presence of God. Second, stay focused on discovering God’s will for your life. Through intentional times of prayer and reflection, you can discern God’s path for your life.

Choose a scripture passage below for further reflection.

  • Matthew 12: 1-8
  • Matthew 16: 24-28
  • Mark 1: 16-20
  • Mark 10: 46-52
  • Luke 1: 26-38
  • Luke 5: 1-11

Other readings:

A Discerning Woman
Connecting Point – Spring 2016 – Making Hard Choices, Knowing Peace