Remembering an Experience of God

Many people come to spiritual direction wanting to better understand an experience of God from their past. Perhaps it was something that happened in prayer or worship. Or it might have been an experience in daily life that opened them to a deeper sense of being loved by God. A spiritual director is trained to help you remember times when you felt close to God or felt “at one with the universe.” If we stay with the memory and allow God to reveal something new as a result of it, we experience the blessing again. Better yet, we learn something new about ourselves or about God. Sitting with that memory—in silence and gratitude—helps us savor the fullness of God.

Just like turning up the volume on a great song you hear on your iPod, sitting with a past experience can amplify the experience. As you re-experience it, you change and grow.

You can do this on your own in prayer by asking the Holy Spirit to help you remember significant moments in your life. See, hear, feel and taste those moments again in your mind and body. You may want to journal about the experience, both past and present and also where the experience may be leading you. Lots of directees bring their journals of memories into direction for just this kind of work.

The experience you return to in prayer doesn’t have to be a warm and fuzzy one. Sometimes we need to face the fearful and anxious experiences again in a safe place with a spiritual director. Until we work through them adequately, they can easily crop up as triggers that torment us. I find that spiritual direction is the perfect safe place for me to remember and face those rocky places.

For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. If you have questions or comments about the content of Spiritual Direction 101, please let me hear from you in the reply section below.

About Teresa Blythe
  • Joseph Hovemeyer

    I thought this was helpful, but the emphasis on the past troubled me. I went through a long period of doubt and searching in my walk with God, and I spent a lot of time trying to “go back” to those experiences I had in the past with God. But I always felt, and still feel that inner voice calling me onward to newer, different places. I’ve come to value the emphasis on the apocalyptic, always new, “breaking in” character of new experiences with the Holy Spirit.

    • http://www.teresablythe.net Teresa Blythe

      You are right–we can never completely go back. It may help some people to re-enter a memory. Others, like yourself, may find it not as helpful. We just have to do whatever God is calling us to do, and for you it’s move toward the new. Thanks for this insight.