Encountering God through Contemplation: Listening for the Spirit | POD 026

Encountering God through Contemplation: Listening for the Spirit | POD 026



Nydiaris Hernandez-Santos – Guest

Gabe Coyle – Guest

Bill Gorman – Host


Show Notes

Encountering God through Contemplation: Listening for the Spirit

Have you ever wondered how to find a moment of divine peace in the chaos of daily life? Together with our guest, Nydiaris Hernandez-Santos, we explore the transformative journey through the discipline of contemplation—distinct from prayer and meditation—and how it can lead us to a more profound awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our daily lives. Drawing from Psalm 63, the wisdom of Christian mystics, and stories from our own lives, we uncover the power of contemplation to connect us more closely to God. We confront the modern challenge of silence in a noisy world and consider how the practice of contemplation is both the road we travel and the destination we seek. Join us for a conversation that promises to enrich and realign our approach to spiritual disciplines and our understanding of what it means to truly be with Jesus.



  1. Understanding Contemplation: Begin by setting aside regular time for stillness to engage with God. Embrace the art of contemplation, distinct from prayer and meditation in its focus on simply being with Jesus. Pay loving attention to His presence and let the Holy Spirit’s influence become a perceptible force in your life. Minimize distractions and commit to this discipline with intentionality, allowing the peace and presence of God to suffuse your being.
  2. Real-Life Experiences: Open your heart to the possibility of encountering God in all aspects of life — from family interactions to personal reflections inspired by art. Take inspiration from our guest’s stories and be prepared for unexpected moments of spiritual revelation. Encourage yourself to stay alert and responsive to the divine presence in seemingly mundane experiences.
  3. The Value and Practice of Contemplation: Acknowledge contemplation not just as a practice but as a lens through which you view the world. It is a holistic approach that calls for extending grace, compassion, and empathy towards others, drawing on examples like Psalm 63 to seek God earnestly in all circumstances. Let the practice of contemplation guide you to a deeper level of communion with God, and let that connection inform your interactions and perspective on the world.

#RomansContemplation #SpiritualDisciplines #HolySpiritPresence #PrayerMuscle #TransformativeJourney #ChristianMystics #ContemplativePractices #ScriptureMeditation #theFormedLifePodcast #BeingWithGod



The Practice of the Presence of God | Brother Lawrence

Interior Castle | St. Teresa of Ávila

Dark Night of the Soul | St. John of the Cross

Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings – Annotated & Explained by Christine Valters Paintner

The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence  | Henri Nouwen

Psalm 63:1-5 | Scripture Reference for Meditation



Nydiaris Hernández-Santos grew up in a small coastal town in Puerto Rico, surrounded by mountains and a beautiful community of people that deeply shaped her faith. A fascination with science led her to pursue a B.S. in Biology/Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico, which resulted in a two-year internship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda M.D. Her passion for germs and the immune system led her to pursue a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Pittsburgh and subsequent postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Nydiaris loves to learn and study! Her life turned one hundred and eighty degrees when the Lord asked her to pursue ministry and her passion for preaching in a more traditional way which included pursuit of an M. Div. degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Nydiaris loves meeting new people and deep conversations. She also loves music, particularly her beloved Latin American tunes. If you are a passenger in her car, you will likely hear some salsa or Latin jazz playing. A long walk, good food, a nurturing book, and passionate prayer are her version of spa treatment.



“So that there is something that contemplating God does that grounds you so that when hardship comes, when difficult times come, you’re not tossing around like a wave. You have something, a foundation to be grounded in and so you can do life with God.” — Nydiaris Hernández-Santos


“There is a reason Jesus said that we had to pray for our enemies, and that that is hard. Yes. But I’m thinking when I think about contemplating God through people, and I’m like, oh, that’s why. Because you will end up loving them after you contemplate God through them.” — Nydiaris Hernández-Santos


 “What it really is is to sit in prayer with no other objective than to be with Jesus. Yeah. You have no agendas for intercession, no list. Yeah. You simply have a phrase and the other day I did this… with the sole purpose of sitting there being with Jesus, and that’s that’s all there is.” — Nydiaris Hernández-Santos



00:00 Exploring transformative journeys through Romans 6-8.

05:57 Attend to God, notice, and contemplate him.

10:02 Contemplation grounds, provides strength, approaching spiritual disciplines.

12:11 Love nature, art, and contemplation of God.

16:29 Finding direction and quiet in a noisy world.

18:45 Symone Wey leaned in and found God’s presence.

21:02 Finding hope and purpose in everyday life.

25:13 Revelations about God’s love for people.

29:42 Contemplative prayer teaches being with God, impacting relationships.

32:17 Contemplation: image, love, engagement, discipline, transformation, road.

We Were Meant to Live for so Much More

We Were Meant to Live for so Much More

Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he’s bent for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly, fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

I was a high school junior when Switchfoot’s iconic song Meant to Live came out. I remember driving to work and school with this song on repeat. As someone who has always dreamed big dreams fueled by a wild imagination, I never really wanted a “quiet life.” While I didn’t know what living a quiet life actually meant in high school, I made myself a promise to never be stuck in a Secret Life of Walter Mitty existence. I had seen friends, family, and leaders waste away in the acceptance of just going with the flow, and it looked more like death than life. 

It had been years since I’d heard that song, and then in 2023, I heard not Jon Foreman but Jon Bellion singing Meant to Live as if it was a new hit single. Switchfoot, no doubt following in the footsteps of Taylor Swift, had re-released their “own versions” of their hits and even went one step further, inviting well-known artists to remake their hits. Instantly it was as if I was in high school again. Now, to be clear, I wasn’t hit with midlife regret. I’ve persistently said “yes” to what many said was crazy, and I have had an expanded imagination around the goodness of quiet living. But the song’s re-release did raise a question that will be raised until Jesus returns: What more is God rescuing me for today

Throughout history, Christians have spoken at length concerning the dangers of discontentment. The Apostle Paul reminds us that with Jesus, we truly have enough no matter our circumstances (Philippians 4:11). What a gift of the Christian life! But for as long as we are on this side of eternity, I also hold fast to how Paul modeled a holy discontent. 

Why? Deep within the infrastructure of salvation are dual, dynamically concurrent movements. God has magnificently rescued you and me through his Son Jesus through his life, death, burial, and resurrection “from” sin. Hallelujah! But that’s not the only movement. God is not just a “from” God. God is also a “for” God. God came not just to rescue us “from” sin and its consequence: death. God came to rescue us “for” life, although looking at some sectors of Christianity, you’d have no idea. Sometimes Christians can get so focused on the “from” that we no longer embody the “for.” 

This is why the Apostle Paul astounds me. He seemingly had everything this world had to offer before Jesus saved him. He was the best in his class. He had good pedigree, past experiences of God, and top-level leadership as a Pharisee in Jerusalem, the holy city! Then he gets a glimpse of the resurrected Jesus on a work trip, and he is confronted with life. 

The atrocity of Paul’s own sin was revealed to himself, along with the beauty of salvation from sin through Jesus’ sufficient death. Simultaneously, Paul saw life in the resurrected Jesus, and nothing compares to that resurrection life. Paul saw Jesus bringing a whole new way to live.

Not a kind of life where self-destructive habits continue to dominate and shame us while we tell ourselves our hope is just a promise on a piece of paper that when we die, it will be different. Not a kind of life that leaves us lonely without purpose. Not a kind of life that is contained to a few quiet times in Scripture and Sunday mornings. 

No. We were meant to live for so much more, but we’ve lost ourselves, partly because we’ve lost sight of salvation.

God wants us to live with him and thus find ourselves. A life that says “yes” to his healing. A life that grows our capacity to love him, others, and ourselves. A life that knows no end and knows higher bounds. A life that exists on more than the weekends. A life no one can take away. The life we were meant “for.” 

But resurrection life is not always the life we recognize. Paul himself didn’t recognize it at first. This is what Paul is writing about in Romans 6-8. He’s laying out how God has rescued us for real life, a life that looks and dwells with Jesus now

One way Christians have sought to open themselves up to this life they read about in Scripture is through contemplation. Contemplation is rich with spiritual practices and postures that Christians throughout history have engaged with to more fully experience and rest in their union with the Author of Life. Contemplation is sometimes still and sometimes not. It’s as rich as resurrection life when we lean in.

Take time to walk through a passage like Romans 6-8. Spend time in contemplation, considering what God might be saying to you. Join your church family in theFormed.life, which continues our daily journey through Scripture and building habits, such as the discipline of contemplation, as we grow into the life God has for us. 

We were meant for more, and he’s waiting.