Evangelicals are listening for God in ways that are different from our usual understanding of discipleship. We are looking at many Christian disciplines, including prayer, silence and solitude, discernment, journaling, and others. … Spiritual direction is one of these disciplines many evangelical Christians are learning about and exploring."

So says Jeannette Bakke, a faculty associate at Bethel Theological Seminary, where she was professor of Christian education from 1978 to 1994. In a recent interview she discussed some of the themes in her book Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction (Baker, 2000), the result of more than 15 years of study, receiving and giving spiritual direction, reflection, and teaching.

She was interviewed at Bethel Seminary by Jennifer H. Disney, a writer and psychologist who lives and works near Minneapolis-St. Paul.

What is spiritual direction?

It is a discipline in which, with the help of another, you try to listen to your own heart and to God's. It is about intention and attention: I desire to hear God, so I am going to make space to give God my attention. Spiritual direction is done either with two people or in groups of three or four.

I like to say that spiritual direction is discernment about discernment, as Christians are always in the process of discernment in some way. When faith is important to us, we often consider such questions as How is God with me right now? How is God inviting me? What is God saying to me? Is God pleased with me? Where are God and I at war? We are often muddling along with those things. Spiritual direction gives people a place to talk out loud and confidentially about what they are thinking about already.

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