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.

Your Body Is a Gift

Your Body Is a Gift

I am a fair weather runner. Runner might be too strong of a word, but between April and November three to four times a week I lace up my shoes and run three to four miles. Starting up again in April is always hard. I am slow and my lungs burn and my legs ache. But I know it will be worth it, so I begin again. There is something that happens when I am out there, something I can’t quite explain, but my soul is somehow free-er. In the quiet and in my solitude I have my deepest times of prayer, of praise, of communion with God. There is this connection between the movement of my body and my spirit, a vivid reminder of how I was created. 

I am an embodied creature. 

I have been thinking a lot lately about embodiment and what it means. I have no startling insights or theological breakthroughs, and some days I struggle to see this particular body that God has given me as a good gift. It’s a little squishier than I would like and as the years go by it aches more and more and it tires more easily. But I do know that the bodies that God gives us are good gifts born out of His love. How do I receive this gift well? How do I best steward this body that was given to me? 

And how does it all work, this union between body and soul? When I am tired or hungry or sore from pushing my body too hard, I snap at my kids and my husband. My prayers are shorter, my Bible reading is perfunctory. Clearly, the condition of my body affects my spirit. When I am anxious, my body reacts with a frenzy of activity. I clean all the things and organize and accomplish all the things on my to-do list that have been sitting there for far too long. When I am sad, I feel physically tired, my eyes are primed for tears. Clearly, the condition of my spirit affects my body. 

Whenever God chooses to call me to himself, this body that I inhabit now with it’s limitations, it’s sicknesses and pains will not go with me, at least as it is now. Scripture tells me that I will get a new body (Philippians 3:21, 2 Corinthians 5), so embodiment is not temporary, it is part of God’s good creation plan. Adam and Eve had bodies before the Fall. My new body will be “like his glorious body,” the body of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. That I cannot conceive of, it is too great and marvelous for me. So if embodiment is eternal, perhaps I should give it more consideration in this life. 

As a follower of Jesus, I tend to think that I only need to nourish my soul (even at the expense of my body), but seeing the connection between the two more clearly over the past year has shown me that caring for my body can be just as important as caring for my soul.

Sometimes it’s the same thing. So I have become more gentle with my body, giving it more rest days and have found my soul renewed. I have, imperfectly, leaned into a weekly sabbath and found it to be life-giving. 

I linger over hugs with my children and my husband. Hugs are not things to be rushed. The physical act of touching another human being that I love in that prolonged way fills our souls. 

Whenever I can, I gather with friends. The eyes God has given me drinking in their expressions, feeling the God-given joy of togetherness, savoring the laughter, (the strange shaking of our bodies and ringing sounds in our ears), these physical expressions of delight. Finding wonder in the seamless connection between the physical and the spiritual. 

Of course in a culture such as ours, the temptation is always near to think of this body more highly than I ought, to put my hope in health and wellness or in looking a certain way. Finding my value in staying at a certain weight or being able to do x number of pushups or letting each new wrinkle tempt me to despair. Putting pressure on this frame that it was never meant to bear, by seeing this gift as ultimate instead of viewing it as a good gift given by a loving Creator. 

But I will continue on this life-long journey to steward this gift well, trying not to think of my body as something to be worshipped and molded into an ever-changing standard of beauty or something that has little worth, somehow inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I will work to use my whole self, physical and spiritual in service to our great God, using what He has given me to glorify Him. I will get it wrong, I will stumble and fall, but through the grace of God I will keep going. And I hope to learn from those of you who are farther ahead on this path and those of you who want to consider with me what it means to honor God with our bodies.