When was the last time you did a deep dive into your own soul? Sometimes we can get so caught up in helping others we forget to tend to our own souls. Here are 20 questions that I use to explore the depths of my heart. If one of these questions speaks to you, provokes you, or causes you to start thinking, linger with it for a while and answer it as deeply as you can.
Introverts examine their inner lives naturally, but they can have a tendency to ruminate on emotions without working toward clarity. Extroverts will need to approach this as a spiritual discipline just to get started. For both it will be hard at first, but as you get used to the practice, you will find it enjoyable and good. It’s like pumping the septic tank of the soul. If you don’t do it, things will back up into your outer life.
I suggest that you write out your answers as fully as you can. This can be great fodder for a daily journaling practice. Writing out the answer by hand will cause you to think more deeply and connect with the subject at a deeper level. It also causes you to pause and reflect as your hand rests. Remember, go deep and get clear.
Most importantly, be sure you do this as an act of prayer. Be aware that you are in the presence of the Holy Spirit and let him guide you. Explore his promptings, whether they be conviction, curiosity, dark emotions, or some other relational emotion. Trust that what you feel in the moment is where the Holy Spirit has led you and explore it in honesty and openness with him.
20 Questions to Clear the Soul
- How would you like to deepen your relationship with God?
- What is your current image of God or feeling of God?
- What is happening in your prayer life?
- What is the story of your spiritual journey so far?
- What do you sense God saying to you through your life right now?
- What strong emotions are you experiencing on a regular basis?
- What does it feel like to be in your body?
- What specific blocks or temptations are hindering your life with God?
- What are you avoiding in outer life or in your inner life with God?
- What do you daydream about?
- Where or in what/who are you looking for peace?
- What is God’s call on your life?
- What questions are bouncing around in your head or soul?
- Where are you experiencing conflict (either internally or externally)?
- What has led you to this place in your life?
- What generational patterns have you noticed in your family (good or bad)?
- What are your dreams for the future?
- Do you have any recurring dreams during sleep? Describe them.
- What recurring fears do you experience?
- What were/are the darkest periods in your life?
When you have exhausted your thoughts and feelings on a subject, set it aside. After some time (a few hours or a day) go back and read what you wrote. What can you learn from your writing? Do you see patterns emerge? Are there direct applications that you need to implement right now? Are there aspects that you need to explore more fully? What does this writing tell you about God and about yourself? Do you see gaps between your desires and reality in relationship with God and others?
What other questions help you go deep and get clarity?
Please, leave a comment below. I personally read all the comments and I try to respond within a day. Or we can interact on Twitter (@PastorsSoul) or on our Facebook page.
© Sean Nemecek, 2018. All rights reserved. Request permission.
Sean Nemecek, (M.Div. Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) is the director of The Pastor’s Soul, and pastor at First Baptist Church in Tustin, Michigan since 2001. A third-generation pastor, he grew up listening to pastors and their families talk about the realities of ministry. Now he wants to use this knowledge to bless the church. Sean is married to Amy, a poet and freelance book editor. Together, they have a 17-year-old son.