Tips for Creating Space for Deep Listening in Community
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries
Listen to the Voice that echoes across the eons of time and yet speaks anew in this moment. Listen to the Voice, for it cannot be stilled, and it calls you once again to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom. -Doctrine and Covenants 162:1b
- Between times of gathering with the community, commit to your own rhythm of spiritual practice that awakens you to God’s presence and invitation. Be open to words, images, and experiences throughout your day and in times of personal prayer that might spark an insight, open a possibility, or bring clarity to your question of discernment.
- Begin each time of gathering with prayerful awareness of the presence of God here and now through communal spiritual practice. Return to the original intention of becoming available to God through the practice of spiritual freedom and of seeking God’s will as the heart of the purpose of spiritual community. Invite the group to share how they have noticed God’s presence and activity throughout the week or in previous gatherings.
- Incorporate intentional spaciousness into your regular agenda as a group or team. These can be simple moments of shared silence that become like anchors drawing your awareness to God’s presence even amid the ordinary business you must tend to. They do not have to be long or complicated. Instead of getting carried away by conversation and planning, take periodic brief pauses, perhaps between agenda items, to invite the community to breathe in silence for 30 seconds to a minute and be open to what the Spirit is doing in the community. You may ask: Where have you sensed God’s movement or invitation in this conversation? Where is the Spirit leading amid this conversation? You do not need to provide time for verbal response, but you can if the schedule allows. You can invite people to respond in a word or phrase to check in on the spiritual condition of the community before moving to the next topic. If something significant arises, you may decide to stay with it and dig deeper before moving forward.
- In moments of tension or disagreement, invite the community to slow down and pay attention to the presence of the Spirit. God is present in all conditions including in moments of disagreement, frustration, or weariness. Take a few moments to be present to God either in the silence or with meditative music playing. Invite the community to reflect: What is the source of passion or resistance around this topic? Do I feel opened to God’s movement right now, or closed off? What is the Spirit’s invitation in this situation?
- When pausing to listen in silence, invite people to offer a few reflections on what they “heard” in the silence as they listened for the Spirit’s movement and invitation. Don’t be afraid to be taken off course! Sometimes an insight is sparked, or another way emerges just from a few moments of shared silence. Those few moments may transform the original discussion into something more life-giving.
- Consider designating a Spiritual Companion or Holy Listener who offers these sacred pauses throughout your time of meeting and provides a prayerful presence.
“Discern what is the will of God” (Romans 12:2).
The heart of discernment is listening for God. God speaks and reveals in many ways-through nature, the voice of a friend, or a deeper knowing in our own souls. How can you create space today to listen for God in your life? What do you hear when you take time to slow down and listen?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.