Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 05:04 am (CNA).
Discernment is hard. How do we know if the voice we're listening to is God's, or our own?
"The Alluring Voice of God: Forming Daily Encounters" (Liguori Publications, 2021) by Carrell Jamilano strives to offer individuals practical tips on how to hear the voice of God among all the noise of their daily lives. The engaging read offers guidance for those seeking to develop a more intimate relationship with God.
As a spiritual director and former director of young-adult ministry, Jamilano was inspired to write this book with the goal to answer the tough questions she frequently received from the young Catholics she ministered to.
In an interview with CNA, Jamilano explained that she "wanted to give these individuals a practical resource that would help them better hear God's voice in their everyday lives."
"It includes how to develop a more intimate relationship with God providing step-by-step guidance at the end of every chapter," she added.
So, how do we develop that intimate relationship with God and recognize His will?
In the journey of discerning God's will for each of our lives, we must first recognize the different ways in which God speaks. Jamilano offers 5 ways through which God speaks: prayer, sacred scripture, silence, tradition, and nontraditional means.
Jamilano writes in the book that "prayer is the conduit through which we develop a personal and living relationship with Abba, our heavenly Father." It's personal, involves our whole heart, and it's a conversation with God requiring us to both speak and listen. Additionally, she advises to invoke the Holy Spirit as you pray. "The Holy Spirit is a friend and advocate who leads us, already working on our behalf to make us more receptive to God's voice," she says.
Distinguishing God's voice is an important part of discernment. Jamilano expresses that "taking the time to get to know God by reading Scripture is vital to understanding which voice is his." Many examples are given of individuals who receive clarity through spending time with the Word of God. Prayers are answered and insight is gained into who we are and what God has intended for us.
In the busyness of our lives, it can be challenging to sit down in silence. When we pray, we tend to do all the talking. However, how many times do you stop and sit in silence? Jamilano emphasizes the importance of removing all distractions and giving God our full attention. She says, "When we are silent, we acknowledge God's presence, and we give him the opportunity to respond to our prayers" and adds that "silence amplifies our inner voice." This inner voice, Jamilano explains, is the Holy Spirit which, when we spend moments in silence, helps us to begin to notice where the Holy Spirit is calling us and realize what God is calling us to do.
In the book, Catholic tradition is defined as, "all the practices that have been given to us by our predecessors through apostolic succession," including all the prayers and teachings that unite Catholics. Therefore, Jamilano makes the point that the Mass, the sacraments, and our traditional prayers are all ways in which God can speak to us.
Jamilano describes nontraditional means as "the unexpected ways God chooses to speak to us." Examples include other people, music, a tv show or movie, art, nature, and even in the ordinary tasks of the day.
How to Discern
Now that we are familiar with the different ways in which we can hear God's voice speak to us, the process of discerning becomes possible.
"Discernment is a process of uncovering God's will about a significant decision in our life," she defines in the book. These are the five tips she offers for discernment.
Spend time in sacred silence
Allowing yourself to spend time in the presence of the Lord and simply listen "enables us to confront the inner stirrings of our hearts."
According to the author, some of the best sources include scripture, tradition, nature, people, and nontraditional means.
Listen to your heart
Reflect on your several choices, pray, and allow your heart to lead you.
Test the call
Readers are encouraged to "take a leap of faith and live out the call" after spending time in prayer, seeking wisdom and listening to your heart.
"Finally, pray about which choice would enable you to love God and others more fully," Jamilano suggests in the book. Typically, the option that brings you closer to God "is exactly where you need to be."
Equipped with the tools to talk and listen to God, Jamilano said that she hopes her book "will help youth, young adults, and all those desiring a more intimate relationship with God to experience a profound encounter with Him and set this world aflame!"
"The message I hope readers will get from "The Alluring Voice of God" is not only that God hears our prayers, but also responds to each and every one of them out of undying love for us," she said. "God is with us, and He desires to be part of every area of our life. He hears us, He thirsts for us, and He loves us!"