I was asked by someone today who had been praying with scripture, “How do I know if it is God’s voice or my own voice I hear in prayer?” Whew! That question made me stop and ponder how to answer that question. How do we really know if it is God’s voice or our own?
I am no theologian or expert in this area. I believe we each have to discern for ourselves and to foster an awareness of how God speaks to each of us. I can only draw from my own experience in discerning whether it is God’s voice or my own.
Pausing to think on this question in my own experience, though, brought these insights to mind:
– When an idea or thought or word or phrase has come out of “no-where” during prayer, and then it continues to return over and over again, I find that it is typically something God is trying to tell me.
– When I have an overwhelming feeling when reading scripture or praying, whether it be of great joy, peace, anger or it moves me to tears, I know it is something I need to pay attention too.
-When a short phrase or word captures my attention or something internal feels a nudge or stirring while reading scripture, I know it is something I must pause sit with and pray on.
-St. Ignatius teaches us to be aware of our emotions: to be aware of the moments where we give and receive love AND to be aware of the moments where we do not give AND receive love. By reflecting on these, I am often able to see where I am experiencing God’s presence and where I am not.
A few more thoughts from Fr. Armand Nigro, S.J. that he offers when reading Scripture:
“When something strikes you….when…
-you feel a new way of being with Christ.
-you experience God’s love
-you feel lifted in spirit,
-you are moved to something good,
-you are peaceful,
-you are happy and content to just be in God’s presence….
this is the time to PAUSE.
It is also the time to PAUSE when you feel disturbed, puzzled by something in scripture.”
How do you discern if it is God’s voice or your own?