Questions that Can Last a Lifetime of “Holy Listening”

“Spiritual Mentoring”

  1. What’s happening? ¿Que pasa?
    (What’s the Spirit been up to in your life?)
  2. Is there any grace (gift) in all that?
    (Where are you noticing God in all that?)
    (Where is God in all that’s going on?)
    (Or: Is there any affirmation (or invitation) in what you’re noticing? Could God be beckoning you in any way through this?)
  3. How are you praying these experiences you’ve shared with me?
    (How are you praying for yourself in relation to what you’ve described?)
    NOT: How are you praying about the difficult person [“I’m praying that Jay will apologize to the other person”], but how are you praying your feelings of anger, disappointment, betrayal? “The same shoe doesn’t fit every foot”—Perhaps a question or two like these below might help: 

    • What particular forms of praying have assisted you in the past?
      • in your intentional solitude?
      • in the “throughout the day” kind of praying?
    • How are you praying the emotions? (perhaps a suggestion out of the Psalms as the model prayer book…)
    • How are you praying with your body? (“The body takes on the shape of the soul…”—perhaps a non-verbal body prayer suggestion)
    • How can you pray for discernment? (if facing difficult choice…)
    • How is silence a part of your praying?
    • How…?


Some (mentors) get an idea and a plan into their heads, which they think much of, and apply to all the souls who come to them, thinking that they will accomplish something great if they bring them into line with it. They have no other object but carrying out what they have decided another should look like, as though they wish all should wear the same clothes.

Jean-Joseph Surrin

The [spiritual] instructor is not to teach his [or her] own way, nor any set way of prayer, but should instruct [the] disciples in how they may find a way appropriate for them… In a word, [you] are only God’s usher, and must lead souls in God’s way, and not [your] own.

—Dom Augustine Baker, seventeenth-century monk

When young Holden Caufield of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye is moved by a crisis to visit a teacher he has loved, the old man assures him, “Many, many… have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now… You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as some day, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. ”

—Timothy K. Jones in Mentor & Friend

As a spiritual midwife, the director’s task is to pay attention, to listen to what is not being said—or to what is being said but minimized.

—Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening

Kent Ira Groff , Founding Mentor, Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development