Conversatio Divina

Part 17 of 19

Defining Our Terms

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Each issue of Conversations is built around a singular theme from the spiritual formation literature. In this issue, for instance, our contributors are working with the subject of spiritual direction. While the editors invite a variety of voices to the table, we have come to believe it may be helpful to our readers if we offer some definitional clarity as an anchor point. We are delighted that InterVarsity Press has agreed to contribute this column, “Defining Our Terms.” The table below is from a book by one of their authors, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, titled Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us.Taken from pages of 115 and 151 of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. Copyright © 2005 by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. Used with permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515,

Spiritual DirectionSpiritual Friendship
Desire:To give caring attention to my relationship with God, accompanied by the prayerful presence of someone who helps me listen well to God.To develop a friendship that encourages and challenges me to love God with my heart, soul, strength, and mind.
Definition:Spiritual direction is “help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship.” Spiritual friendship involves cultivating a covenant friendship where I can naturally share about my life with God. It is grounded in relationship to God and a commitment to support, encourage, and pray for each other.
[NIVAll Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. ...” (John 16:12, 13)
“Come near to God and he will come near to you...” (James 4:8)
“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He...wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”
(Isaiah 50:4)
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)

“Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Practice Includes:- Entering an intentional and regular relationship that fosters union with God.

- Opening your prayer life and experience of God to another for the sake of shared listening.

- Listening to your life and the desires God has placed in your heart.

- Letting the Spirit set the direction of the discussion.

- Living by what God is saying to you.

- Allowing another set of eyes and ears to help you interpret your experiences and the voice of God.
- Journeying with another so you mutually grow in faith, hope, and love.

- Covenanting to pray for each other and receiving each other in love.

- Playing together and praying together.

- Knowing another well enough to be a support, encouragement, and word of God to him or her.

- Developing a healthy, interdependent friendship that encourages and grows the soul.

- Inviting a friend into the journey of recognizing your blind spots.
God-Given Fruit:- Walking with a companion who can help you hold your soul before God.

- Noticing your experiences of God.

- Attending to and recognizing God’s voice in your life.

- Mending the split between your head and your heart.

- Fostering deeper union with God.

- Growing in prayer.

- Learning to better discern the Holy Spirit’s movements in decisions you make.

- Finding Jesus in the wounds as well as the joys of life.

- Receiving deep inner healing.
- Gaining the perspective and support of a trusted Christian friend.

- Being open about your highs, lows, temptations, and joys.

- Experiencing God’s love through the love of a friend.

- Appreciating and being thankful for the giftedness of your spiritual friend.

- Allowing a trusted friend to stretch and challenge you.

- Laying down your life for love of another.

- Having more than allies, colleagues, and acquaintances in your journey.