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Are Spiritual Questions Good or Bad?

Raise your hand if you have heard the expression: "Do not question God!" I still cringe when I hear this because I believe this is some advice that is incomplete. Especially considering that asking questions was central to Jesus' life and teachings. For every question he answers directly he asks—literally—a hundred. It is Jesus who is the questioner who provokes us to delve into the mystery of who he is, who we are, and the life we share together. So what makes a question bad?

Spiritual questions asked in Spiritual Direction is a wonderful combination
Asking Questions is Important for Spiritual Advancement

Jesus Asks Good Spiritual Questions

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Mark 2:6-11 (NIV)

Four men came to Jesus full of faith and as a result their friend was healed. But the scribes (experts) in this passage missed the whole point because they came as critics looking to find fault. Therefore Jesus asks, "Why do you question these things in your heart ? Leave it Jesus to give us and example of a great spiritual question.

Sure it is easy to look at the scribes in this story and say "How could you?" But what about when I listen to preaching and teaching? What is going on in my heart? Am I listening for the voice of Jesus eager to believe? Or have I become critical, cynical, clinical? Am I using the questions to investigate Scripture or to avoid having to my own inner work?

What makes a question "bad?"

I know we have all heard a teacher say "there are no bad questions" but here are some exceptions to the rule.

  1. If it either doesn't have a purpose or intention or fails to accomplish it's goal or intention.

  2. Irrelevant or imprecise.

  3. Obscures rather than reveals what the person "knows now."

  4. Deters rather than encourages to create new knowledge

  5. Stops both teacher and student cold with no clear path forward

  6. Loaded with biases, fallacies, and/or irrational patterns

"Not every question is health, and not every question is looking for an answer but no one is born a cynic. Every child is born with a sense of wonder. It is the disappointed and the disillusioned who must interrogate everything. "--Lectio Prayer App

Have your hurts made you deaf to the kindness of Gods promise? Are you using your questions to shield your motives? Imagine my surprise to encounter more questions when questioning my questions. But I am at peace to know that God provides a space even for this. Spiritual direction provides a place and a person with whom we can voice our questions and seek answers together.

Lord I yield all the questions I have raised to keep from trusting you. I do this not to be naive and fall for anything but so that I will be wise in truth and in faith.


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