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Title:  Hearing God

 

Author:  Dallas Willard

 

Publisher:  InterVarsity Press

 

I was initially interested in Hearing God because I don't have much experience with hearing God's voice.  I believe that I do receive guidance from God through many sources - the Bible, counsel of others, circumstances, etc.  But I don't seem to hear God's voice the way that some others do.  I know others whose walks with God I admire and they seem to have more direct experience hearing God, so I wanted to learn more about this in order to help grow my relationship with God.

 

The basic premise of the book is that hearing the voice of God should be a far more normal experience today than it is.  For a number of reasons, Christians today don't hear God's voice as often as we could or should.  We may be skeptical of others' claims of hearing God's voice, or we may have misconceptions about how and when God speaks.  We may be failing to put ourselves in a position to hear His voice, or we may simply not recognize it when he does speak.

 

Willard proposes that any close relationship must by definition include two-way communication, and concludes that the lack of such communication in our lives may be hindering our growing closer to God.  He goes on to demonstrate a number of ways in which God speaks generally - through nature, through the Bible, through the life of Jesus.  All of these are valid, but he urges the believer to go further and hear God's voice specifically.

 

Perhaps the most significant idea in the book is that hearing God's voice should be sought only as a part of a certain kind of life - the kind that is centered on God, the kind of life in which relationship with God is the supreme factor.  Outside of that kind of life, hearing God's voice will be either impossible (due to our lack of ability to recognize his voice) or unprofitable (due to our tendency to want our own desires rather than to put a priority on God's will for us).

 

Hearing God is not so much about getting guidance for specific questions, although God can provide that.  Instead, it is about getting to know God Himself better.  Willard believes that relationship with God is far more important than making a "right" decision in a specific circumstance.  Part of what keeps us from hearing God's voice is that we tend to seek to hear him only in the context of a specific need or decision, rather than in the context of a relationship with Someone we want to know better.

 

This book is not a "three steps to success in…" kind of book.  There are no easy answers here, and no quick path to resolution.  Anyone who reads this book hoping to find a sure-fire way to know God's leading in a specific situation will be disappointed.  But for the serious student interested in taking a next step in his or her relationship with God, this book can be a helpful companion.

 

Willard's style is somewhat academic and his logic is complex.  This book is definitely not light reading and will challenge the reader to think deeply about the topics he presents.  To help with that, each chapter provides several questions for thought and meditation at the end.

 

If you're going to read this book, here are some questions to help you get started:

 

  1. How do you believe that God guides you primarily?
  2. Do you believe that God speaks today in an audible voice like he did in the Bible?
  3. Would you want to hear God's voice?  Would you give him free reign to speak into any area of your life?

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I am currently teaching young adults "how to hear the voice of the Lord" and would like to know if this book would be a good resource for me to use for teaching preparation?

 

Cynthia

Cynthia,

 

Sorry to take so long to get back to you - I've been out of town for a while.  The book would be good background material and would give you insight as you prepare.  You'd need to translate the concepts for young adults - it's not really written to be that accessible to that age group.  However, many of the ideas in the book could definitely be restated in ways that would apply to your audience and I think would help them significantly.  I think that for that age group, Willard's emphasis on learning to hear God's voice as part of a relationship with Him (as opposed to as a way of seeking answers to specific questions) would be especially valuable.

 

I hope this is helpful.

--Andrew

Thank you for your careful description of the book. For about 2 years now I journal my evening prayers which are mostly seeking God through suffering and in my personal relationship with Him. I then ask God to speak to me while I wait quietly. I write what I believe God is saying. Is it my words or is it God's words? Who really knows this side of heaven? But I do know that the words are all in line with scripture. I sense they are not my words as mine would not be as gentle as clear or as endearing.  When I look back and read my prayers and His words, I am encouraged and brought not only closer to Him but I believe closer to knowing His good purposes for me. Very intimate and real.

 

Penny Flora

sounds like Willard hit the nail on the head with his premise.  You summed up his approach:

 

"Perhaps the most significant idea in the book is that hearing God's voice should be sought only as a part of a certain kind of life - the kind that is centered on God, the kind of life in which relationship with God is the supreme factor.  Outside of that kind of life, hearing God's voice will be either impossible (due to our lack of ability to recognize his voice) or unprofitable (due to our tendency to want our own desires rather than to put a priority on God's will for us)."

 

Is there any other kind of life that is genuinely Christian?  We read the stats every day about how many church goers across the nation take on the monicker "Christian" but live by priorities significantly different than Jesus taught. We lament about the ineffectiveness of the church to change and influence culture.  Maybe we are accepting, and even promoting a definition "what it means to be a Christ-follower" that are much lower than what Jesus taught.

 

For those that expect a higher level of commitment and intentionally want to be Christ-Centric in all they do, Willards explanation is right on target.  If we're not willing to live centered on Christ, the bible is full of warnings and conditions for answered prayer that we may not meet. Let's work to raise the standards, and then that which is the norm in our Christian experience will begin to be more aligned with what we see in first century church of Acts.

 

 

Dear brother Andrew,

 

I just finished the book once, now are ready to re-read it more carefully the 2nd round. It’s a great book overall, insightful and thought provoking. The final 2 chapters gave me much practical suggestions.

 

I could distinctly remember moments of ‘hearing’ God’s voice, but many times, emotions subsequently took over that I want the ‘same’ feeling be experienced again, which often result in vain – for God cannot be coerced. I now, simply behold the promises, keep reminding myself, according to His own Word, and that’s enough & be still.

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