By engaging in spiritual direction, you’re making a promise to God, to yourself, and to your trusted spiritual director to actively work on strengthening your faith. It’s a three-part encounter.
Spiritual direction is a helping relationship between the Lord and two Christians, a seeker committed to growing in a life of prayer and a spiritual director who is mature in their faith. Through their relationship and regular meetings, the director helps the seeker be more attentive to the Lord’s personal communication with them, respond to God, and grow in intimacy with Him.
How Can Spiritual Direction Strengthen Your Faith?
What strengthens relationships? Open and honest communication. Your relationship with the Lord is no different.
When you decide to focus on listening to the Lord and communicating with Him on a regular basis, you’re deciding to strengthen your faith and bring your relationship with God to the forefront of your life. Your spiritual director is a trusted guide and mentor in faith who can help you better communicate with the Lord.
It’s the duty of the spiritual director to guide you on a path that deepens your relationship with the Lord through poignant questions, reflections and spiritual exercises. They can give you the tools and advice to begin to listen and communicate with God every day, but it is up to you to open your heart to listen and lead a life of prayer.
The Importance of a Director You Can Trust
This relationship only works if the seeker and the guide trust each other. It’s much more difficult to grow in your relationship with the Lord if you do not trust or feel uncomfortable opening up to a spiritual director. Everyone has struggles to overcome on their faith journey, and it’s important to have a guide you trust to work through them together.
That can sometimes mean breaking off a relationship that feels strained and looking elsewhere for a spiritual director. It may take a few sessions to get to know a new spiritual director and determine if they’re a fit. Or, you may already know someone with a strong faith who could be willing to guide you on the path.
Benefits of a Trusted Spiritual Director
When you find the spiritual director that you can trust and grow with, you’ll see a plethora of benefits, including the following seven that we’ve highlighted.
Accountability for Strengthening Your Faith
The road to a close relationship with the Lord is not an easy one, and no one is sure-footed from the beginning of the journey. A trusted spiritual director will see when you falter and help you through difficult or stagnant stretches of your spiritual journey as a good friend and mentor. This accountability provides encouragement to push onward and improves your chances for success and spiritual growth.
A Guide Through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are a series of prayers, meditations, reflections, and directions intended to help you deepen your relationship with the Lord and discern His will for your life. Many have found these exercises to be instrumental to their spiritual journeys, but it takes an experienced spiritual director to guide you through them in a meaningful way.
Improved Discourse with God
A big part of spiritual direction and the process of deepening your relationship with the Lord is determining the style (or combination of styles) of prayer that works best for your conversations with God.
A trusted spiritual director can offer personal advice, thoughtful questions, and reflections to help you communicate with the Lord through prayer.
Improved Spiritual Health
Your faith and spirituality touches every piece of your life. Focusing on growing and nurturing a relationship with God helps you find comfort and strength in difficult times, as well as joy and peace in happy times.
Gift of Presence
Over the weeks, months, or years, your spiritual director becomes a trusted friend and confidant. They are with you on your journey and are present to hear both your trials and triumphs. Whether or not they are able to actively help you discover a solution, the presence of someone who cares about your faith and wellbeing is a true gift.
“I have learned to listen more than speak , not just in Direction, but in life. I have learned that in accompanying others, I also benefit as I trust the Holy Spirit to guide me.”Mary Shutts, spiritual director
Increased Self Awareness
A skilled director can help you to see yourself as God sees you. Through prayer and discernment, you’ll see and examine areas of your life that could be improved, as well as, in time, the path to those improvements.
Perhaps you speak more than you listen, struggle with pessimistic views, or there are relationships in your life in need of extra attention. These will likely come up in heart-to-heart conversations with your spiritual director.
Greater Sense of Purpose
As you discern what God wants for your life through spiritual direction and prayer, you’ll find that a greater sense of clarity and purpose overcome you concurrently. Once you find your path, be it family life, a religious vocation or another way, you need only follow it with your whole heart.
Finding a Spiritual Director
Finding a director who is equipped to guide your journey and who you feel comfortable opening up to is a process you should not rush.
The Oblates of the Virgin Mary’s ministry at the Lanteri Center trains spiritual directors from around the world over an extensive five-year program. If you are having difficulty with your search, they can provide connections to trained spiritual directors in your area to help guide you on your faith journey.
“The program has opened my eyes to how God desires to know each of His own in a special way where each person is. I’m practicing as a director and also find the tools helpful personally as well with family and friends”Mary Everts, Lanteri Center alumnus
The connections between a spiritual guide, someone seeking to strengthen their faith, and the Lord are lifetime bonds and commitments to prayer. Strengthening your faith takes work and is an ongoing journey throughout your life. A trusted spiritual director brings experience, heart, and companionship on that journey.
What questions do you have about how you might benefit from spiritual direction and strengthening your faith? Do you have concerns about finding the right guide for your spiritual journey? Let us know in the comments below.