How to Hear the Holy Spirit
The Increase/Decrease Plan
Question for private reflection and/or class discussion:
Think of a recent time when you felt energized and inspired. What fruits came from it? How does this indicate that it was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit?
There are many times I have felt energized and inspired and knew it was the Holy Spirit, having experienced confirmations of what I was asking, doing or focused on.
I have also experienced delays or interruptions to things I felt was the Holy Spirit — which I also think were distractions to take me off the path. These are sometimes the struggles; the energy for it doesn’t always go away. But is this the Holy Spirits leading or my rebellion?
Reply from Terry:
Yes, there are distractions that can interfere with what the Holy Spirit is guiding us to do. Trust the energy you feel, but only after asking the Holy Spirit to either increase your energy if it’s something God is asking you to do or decrease your energy if it’s not. Rebellion has a different kind of energy. Rebellion’s energy is like a fire that burns up the fuel, whereas God’s energy is like the burning bush Moses encountered: The fuel is God and the fire doesn’t drain the energy source. We can get tired physically, but the energy is there and ready to motivate us again as soon as we’ve rested. When we feel drained or burnt-out, we are either going in the wrong direction or doing more than God is asking of us.
I need to add, though, that there’s another cause for burn-out. Sometimes we do what God directs us to do but neglect to stay nourished by God (and recharged by his energy). We need to avail ourselves of what God provides for fuel: for example more prayer time, the Eucharist, quiet time alone with Jesus, vacations and holidays, resting on Sunday, etc.
My problem is I can not concentrate when I am praying or reading the Bible.
I think almost everyone has this problem to some extent. The problem is worsened by trying harder to concentrate, right? And then we feel bad about ourselves for getting distracted during prayer and scripture time.
The cure is to do the opposite of what makes it harder: Stop trying to get un-distracted! Instead, take Jesus with you into the distractions. Wherever your mind wanders to, take Jesus with you. Usually, distractions have an important message that is trying to get our attention (even if it at first seems as mundane as “What am I going to make for dinner?”) The Holy Spirit has something to say on everything we think about (“Cook your favorite dish for dinner; you deserve to treat yourself to good nourishment and yummy flavors after the hard day you’ve had”). I’ve made some of my greatest spiritual discoveries by traveling with my mind when it wanders instead of fighting it.
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