About This Lesson Plan on Listening to God
This I Hear My Shepherd lesson plan on listening to God will help youth understand that we need to put some effort into listening to God. We won’t be able to hear him if there are a lot of distractions in our lives. Youth will also learn how the Examen can be used to listen to God.
Opening Game for I Hear My Shepherd
Start this lesson plan on service by playing Shepherd’s Voice (see the complete instructions).
Follow up with a couple of questions:
- Did you try to go to your shepherd individually or did you stay together as a group?
- Could you hear your shepherd calling you?
- What made it difficult to get to your shepherd?
God is calling to all of us just like a shepherd calls to his sheep. But sometimes we can’t hear or there are obstacles in the way.
Scripture Reading for Lesson Plan on Listening to God
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”John 10:27-30
Discussion for the I Hear My Shepherd Lesson Plan
Imagine you are a sheep in a field with about 100 other sheep. There are four or five shepherds there, trying to gather in their sheep from the group. The sheep are all bleating. The shepherds are calling. How do you know which one to follow?
This very short gospel passage gives us some clues.
My sheep hear my voice.
First of all, we need to be able to hear. If we are too distracted by what is going on in our world, then we aren’t going to be able to hear the Lord calling to us.
There are many things which can get in the way. We might feel like we are too busy to spend time in prayer. We might let a friend talk us into going out for breakfast instead of going to Sunday Mass. Our lives can be full of distractions.
I know them.
We have to believe that the Lord knows us as nobody else does. So he will call to us in a way that he knows will attract us. Sometimes we call this the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is that little tug at your heart which keeps coming back.
We can push this aside and ignore it. Eventually it will go away. But a better option would be to spend a little time everyday praying about it.
They follow me.
We have to take action. It is not just enough to hear the Lord and to want to follow. We have to move. When we know God is calling us to do something, we must take a first step, even if it is a small one.
There is a form of prayer called the Examen which we can use to help us listen to the Lord. I am going to guide you through a simple version of it.
While we are praying, you might notice some things in your life which have been distracting you or pulling you away from God. Or you might become aware of some feelings you are experiencing, which could be the Lord tugging at your heard. And near the end, you will have the opportunity to commit to take action based on your prayer.
So let’s get started. First, get comfortable and relaxed. Slow your breathing. Become aware of God’s presence here. Make the sign of the cross.
Now think about the past 24 hours. What did you do? Who were you with? When you come to something pleasant, spend a little time enjoying the experience. Then thank God for those good moments.
A longer pause
Review the past day again. Think of any emotions, good or bad, which you experienced in the last 24 hours. Are any of these provoking a strong reaction in you? If so, make a note of them, and then move on.
Another long pause
Now choose one of the events of the last day to pray about. If something caused a strong emotional response, that is usually a good one to choose. Or pick something which is really vivid and clear in your memory.
Imagine Jesus is sitting next to you as a friend. Talk to him about that event. Ask him what he wants you to know about it. If you need forgiveness for something, talk to him about that.
Another long pause
Now think about tomorrow. Did anything during this prayer time make you consider an action you should take? Is there anything you need to do in order to follow Jesus more closely? Do you need to go to reconciliation? If appropriate, make a commitment to do something.
Close with the sign of the cross.
Reflection Questions for the Listening to God Lesson Plan
- Does anyone want to share their general thoughts about this prayer method?
- Does it help to start your prayer by thinking about some good things and expressing gratitude?
- Did this method make you notice any feelings which you were not aware of? You can answer generally or you can be specific.
Challenge for the I Hear My Shepherd Lesson Plan
This week, try praying the Examen every day. Use it as an opportunity for listening to God. See if you are prompted to do something differently.
Prayer for the Lesson Plan on Listening to God
Conclude by praying the The Our Father.
The Daily Examen is a powerful prayer developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It encourages us to look at our day and reflect how God is speaking to us in our experiences and emotions. The Examen helps with listening to God is moving in our lives and speaking to us through everyday encounters.
This is a video version of the Examen which might be helpful in guiding others through this prayer and for learning about listening to God.
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