A Companion’s Way

The Gloucestershire Course in Spiritual Direction

What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction is a relationship of friendship in which the help given by one Christian to another enables that person to:

  • pay attention to God’s personal communication with him/her
  • to respond to this invitation
  • to grow in intimacy with this God
  • to live out the consequences of the relationship

Henri Nouwen writes that ‘spiritual direction describes an encounter between two people in which a directee brings to a trained and/or experienced director questions of personal and spiritual meaning.’ For example:

  • How can I become aware of God’s presence in my life?
  • How/where is God present and active in my life right now?
  • How might I be experience a deeper relationship with God?
  • How can I have some assurance that that my decisions about work, money and personal relationships are made in a spiritual way?
  • How do I know that my life is lived in obedience to God and not just in response to my own impulses and desires?

In this process of exploration, God is the director; the human director serves as the vessel through which the Spirit works to uncover and discover the Divine at work in your everyday experiences. The content of the direction session is simply the ‘canvass of your life’: whatever aspect, story, or experience you feel moved to bring to prayer and reflection. You, the seeker, your director, and the Holy Spirit meet in holy conversation so ‘you may have life and have it more abundantly.’ (John 10:10)

Above all, your spiritual director listens and helps you to become clearer about the hints and guesses, the invitations, and the ‘nudging’ of the Spirit in your life. He/she helps you to be aware, to notice, to ‘wake up’ to the spiritual relationship you have with God. Your director may help you with discernment, spiritual practices, methods of prayer, and at times suggest scripture and other spiritual reading. He/she is present as a compassionate, respectful witness to the joys and sorrows of your journey. Together you pray for that ‘closer walk with God. Prayer can be part of your session and your director continues to hold you in prayer between sessions.

Photo © Dr Peter Barrow – with thanks
Photo © Dr Peter Barrow – with thanks