Discernment: Learning to pray

By The Beacon | February 11, 2015 3:23pm

By Andrew Higdon |

Andrew Higdon, 23, is one of two Novices at UP for four weeks. He is in the process of discerning life with the Congregation of Holy Cross. He was born in Dallas, TX and attended college at the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering.

I first started seriously considering a possible calling to the seminary as a freshman in college.  Living on my own had been the catalyst for reconsidering, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

I felt a certain attraction toward priesthood, but I also had a great desire to be married and raise a family. It felt like God had placed this momentous choice before me, and somehow I had to figure out the right answer.

After spending time with the Vocations Director in the diocese I began to learn how to better approach this discernment. First, I needed to understand that God loves me and wants me to be happy. God wants me to make the choices that will lead to my happiness.

Trusting God’s plan was kind of the foundation. If I can trust God, even partially, to provide for my happiness, then I can authentically search out what God wants for my life. When I begin trust to God, then I could learn to listen for his voice.

Building a relationship with God through prayer is critical to building that trust. If we want to know God, we just have to spend time with him. Practically, spending time with God can be challenging.

What I’d like to offer are suggestions for building a relationship with God, so that we might be better able to trust and listen to him.

One of the things I’ve learned and I recommend is setting aside a scheduled time in your day. For those of you who are morning people, maybe this means getting up 10 minutes earlier. As someone who tends to hit the snooze button till the last possible second, I’ve learned to set aside some time before I go to sleep.

At different times in our lives we may have to schedule time with God differently, especially as students whose schedules change every semester. On your calendar actually designate the time to spend with God just like you would for an appointment with a friend or for a class.

As with any relationship, your relationship with God depends quite simply on making yourself present to him.

Though we can pray everywhere, having a specific place to pray can help prepare us for spending time with God.

Whether you stop by one of the many chapels on campus or sit on a bench looking out over the bluff, the environment can aid us in centering ourselves. Also, going to the same place every day to pray can help to establish a routine.

Through prayer, I eventually discerned that entering the seminary was where God was leading me. For the rest of my life, I will continue to discern God’s will for me.

As we approach the Lenten season, I invite you to reflect on God’s role in your life and your discernment of your life. When you think about taking on a Lenten sacrifice, consider sacrificing some of your time to spend it with God.