EP. 29: Jan Johnson

Jan Johnson | Spiritual Direction, Hearing God's Voice

Jan is a writer, speaker and spiritual director who has degrees in biblical studies and Christian spirituality. She has written twenty-three books, including Enjoying the Presence of God, When the Soul Listens, and many magazine articles. She is a frequent retreat and conference speaker. 

Jan spends most of her work days writing books, magazine articles, newspaper essays, and Bible studies in her home office in Simi Valley, California. 

Thankful for her degree in Christian education, Jan began writing Bible study curriculum about twenty years ago that would reach the teens in the inner-city neighborhood where she lived. Gradually, she switched to writing for adults and then began writing articles and books. About ten years ago, Jan began speaking extensively. About the same time, she also took classes to become a spiritual director. 


Jan and I chat about enjoying Jesus, quieting the mind, ridding your life of life-draining behaviors, and God’s invitation. 

4:12 Jan shares how she came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior

“I always had a sense that Jesus was everywhere.”

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Enjoying the Presence of God

  • During the time of writing Enjoying the Presence of God is when Jan began to ask what it was like to meditate on Scripture, to hang out with God.  God’s Word became less of a checklist and more of a relationship.
  • God became the companion of her soul during this time.

6:55 Jan discusses spiritual formation, partnering with God in caring for the voiceless, and living with purposeful intentionality. 

“Spiritual formation is really discipleship, but it’s not just doing practices. It’s about letting the Spirit transform you into Christlikeness.”

Spiritual practices = different ways of connecting with God

8:35 “The focus of attention in spiritual formation isn’t on me and how I am doing….It’s always about oneness with God, union with God.”

“What would it look like to love God for the next 10 minutes?”

10:50 Jan talks about having a voice for the voiceless

“That is what Jesus did.  The people nobody wanted to hang out with, there He was.”

13:36 “What breaks your heart that breaks the heart of God?….Different things break people’s hearts differently, which is great, because then we are all the hands and feet of Jesus in so many different ways.”

“Ask God for a next step?”

14:14 Jan answers what it looks like to live with purposeful intentionality

“Having that sense of what God is inviting you into and not doing just what you are good at.”

15:14 Purposeful intentionality is “having a growing sense of what God is inviting you into, taking the next step, doing things, rather than just drifting, rather than just doing whatever you are asked to do.”

17:37 I quote Jan’s book Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace, “In the recent past, followers of Christ have mostly practiced disciplines of engagement, such as study, prayer, service, worship, and fellowship.  Disciplines of engagement help us take in the life of God.  Disciplines of abstinence, however, such as fasting, solitude, silence, chastity, secrecy, frugality and simplicity of speech and time, help us let go of life-draining behaviors. We need to exhale what is unnecessary as well as inhale nourishment from God.”  p. 11

Jan talks about how we can begin ridding our lives of life-draining behaviors

“Start having a conversation with God that says, ‘What could I let go of? What am I hanging on to just because it makes me look good? What I am hanging on to just because people think that I should do that?’ ….What do I really want and help me to clear away the rest?” 

“Drench yourself in God’s love.”

“No shame and blame.”

Apprentice experience: I am one in whom Christ delights and dwells. And I live in the strong and unshakeable kingdom of God.”

“What would I need to not be hurried?”

“Hurry really rips 1 Corinthians 13 out of the Bible.”

“We could stand to say about half of what we say. Be quick to listen and slow to speak.”

“Simplicity of possessions….Limit the acquisition of things.”

“I find Jesus to be really practical.”

25:51 Jan talks about spiritual practices and simplicity

29:46 Jan defines and unpacks contemplative prayer

“Most of the time what you will hear more than anything else is, ‘I love you.  I’ve got you.’ That is really the deepest truth of the universe.”

“Contemplative prayer is that space to really interact with God and especially that space…too soak. Soak in God’s goodness.”

“It is about quieting the mind.”

“For a lot of people, prayer is simply worrying out loud.”

Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

“Sabbath is part of creation.  Life works better, humans work better, animals work better, the crops work better with Sabbath.”

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