Episode 28 – Discernment of Spirits (Part 1)

Graphic for Episode 28

Jake shares with Brett about his experiences on an 8 day retreat, especially what he learned about the discernment of spirits.

Key Points

  • It’s surprising how active the enemy can be in our lives
  • Having neutral (bland) affect is an okay
  • Engage as soon as we move below a neutral affect and discern the movements of the good spirit and the evil spirit
  • Engage means to apply Rule 6: “Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting more on prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by giving ourselves more scope in some suitable way of doing penance.”
  • Discerning spirits is similar to John Eldredge’s teaching on interpretations and agreements
  • Discernment of spirits is a life skill
  • Anytime in your spiritual life, you feel affectively off or low, we need to engage that
  • Renewing a deep connection to the scripture is valuable
  • Blandness in prayer isn’t bad, it can actually be a good thing. It’s good because in these times, the soil of our hearts is full of trust.
  • We engage the affect because we are discerning who is at work within us, the good spirit or the evil spirit
  • Discernment of spirits is a day to day exercise where St. John of the Cross is often speaking about longer seasons of the spiritual life.
  • In life we can be wounded which results in our learning to survive and cope. We can conceptualize the thematic adaptations and coping skills like a “person” or “part” of ourselves.
  • Some examples of parts are: mind reader, story teller, controller
  • In prayer, we often move on to the next thing (scripture) where the Lord could do a deeper work where we were. Imagine what He could do if we stayed with a scripture for longer, even several weeks.
  • We could describe wisdom as experiential knowledge rooted in theoretical truth
  • Discernment of spirits can be something that men help each other with
  • Discernment of spirits is being a strong man and guarding our house and preventing being bound: “In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.” (Mark 3:27)

Discussion Questions:

  • What struck you from this episode?
  • What struck you from this episode?
  • Do you know about the discernment of spirits? In what ways? How could the discernment of spirits be helpful for you?
  • What’s your connection with the Scriptures like?
  • How did you react when you heard that blandness in prayer can be good?
  • If your common emotional states (anger, sadness, anxiety) where a person, what would they be like? How do you feel about “them”? How do you typically relate to them?
  • How does discernment of spirits relate to the strong man in Mark 3:27?