Session #4

Silencing the Inner Self

Are you plagued by distracting thoughts when you try to pray? Here’s how to turn the problem into deeper unity with God.

Take a prayerful time-out now to let the Holy Spirit sink more deeply into your spirit whatever God wants you to learn and remember from today’s session, using the song Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli:

Questions for discussion (please post a comment):

1. Remember an emotion you recently felt during which you did not pray and you were not aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It could be a happy feeling or anger or sadness — any emotion. Since we were made in the image and likeness of God, we can recognize that he, too, has the same emotion. (Feelings are neither good nor bad; it’s what we do with them that might lead to sin, and of course, God never sins, but he has the feelings! And he feels it more keenly than we do.)

2. Contemplate the idea that Jesus shares the same feeling you’ve had. How do you feel as you realize that you are united to God through your emotions? If you’re comfortable sharing what you are discovering in this, please send in your story so that others may learn from it.

Comments from the live event

L.Z. shares: It is hard to realize that Jesus shares the same feelings we have, especially when we deal with feelings and words of anger and frustration in our daily lives. The best thing is that God and the Holy Spirit always have a way to bring us back when sin from our emotional reactions attempt to disconnect us from our true path. The sense of guilt always brings me back to reconsider, evaluate, discuss, and repent. It is a hard journey, but I try to address the discomfort I feel deep inside me after an argument over disobedience, disrespect or whatever else we face in our family. My youngest son who is a freshman in high school is a procrastinator, so he is really testing my patience. What a gift!

Terry replies: Feelings are not sinful. It’s what we do with our feelings that are sinful or Christ-like. Disobedience is not a feeling, it is a decision made in reaction to a feeling. Since we are made in the image of God, where would feelings come from if not from him, and why would he give us something he himself does not experience as part of his own nature?

We see in scripture many cases of God’s anger; the Old Testament has many, and Jesus was angry when he overturned the money-changers’ tables. And think of this: Is Jesus frustrated when he watches us go down a path that is harmful to us? Of course he is. The word “frustrated” means “feeling distress and annoyance, especially because of inability to change or achieve something”.

Understanding our union to God through feelings is an important way to connect to him. We are in fact connected to him powerfully when we feel what he feels. Are you sad because someone has hurt you? Jesus, too, feels sad that you were hurt, albeit more perfectly, more fully, more deeply.

We are much more closely connected to the Holy Spirit than we realize. We are not people who occasionally connect to God and then live the rest of our time apart from him each day. Sin does interfere with this, but if your greatest desire is to be united to Christ’s Spirit, then sin has not destroyed your connection to him, it’s only added some noise to the line and we need to clear it up.

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