No matter what I’m invited to do at churches or spirituality gatherings, I’m covertly doing group spiritual direction. That’s because spiritual direction is not just something I do for a living, it’s more the way I see and interact with the world.
So I believe every time I lead a group in a prayer practice or meditation, I am also using my skills as a spiritual director to help the group process what it experienced in that prayer or meditation. I’m asking open-ended questions, making observations about what they share and listening—deeply—to everything people say.
When I train spiritual directors in the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction, I tell them to begin to see the world as a spiritual director—always looking for places where they can listen and respond in a contemplative, evocative way.
For example, let’s say you are invited to lead a church school class in a session of contemplative prayer using the lectio divina (Sacred Reading) process. Here’s how you might do this as group direction:
Simple Lectio Divina
- Prepare for prayer by helping the group relax, focus on their breathing, and get in touch with the presence of God within.
- Invite the individuals in the group to listen prayerfully to the reading of a short passage of scripture (a poem or other short reading could also be used) for a word, phrase or image that invites them into prayer.
- Slowly read the passage aloud three times, pausing for about 2 minutes of silence in-between.
- After the third pause for silence, invite participants to think silently about what that word, phrase or image seems to offer them. How might God be present in that word, phrase or image? Allow 5 more minutes of silence.
- Invite participants now to share both their word (phrase or image) and its significance to them in a group discussion. Encourage a slow, contemplative pace to the sharing time.
- After everyone has shared, reflect back to the group some of what you noticed in the group discussion. Ask short, open-ended questions about how the prayer was for them. Listen carefully as they share their sacred experience.
- End with a prayer of thanksgiving for what God has granted in this reflection.
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.