In Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, Dallas Willard has given us a real gift. Hearing God is destined to become one of the classic texts on learning how to hear God’s voice. Willard starts off by asking, “How can you be sure God is speaking to you? The answer is that we learn by experience. The key is to focus more on building our personal relationship with our Creator and less on individual actions and decisions. Hearing God’s directions is only one dimension of a rich and interactive relationship.” (p.9)
This is such profound advice. Christian bookstores contain a vast array of books on learning to discern God’s will. Bible Schools offer courses on it and churches run prophetic conferences to help people get a “word from God.” These aren’t bad things but, in some ways, they miss the mark.
How much richer would our lives be if we focused on cultivating a conversational relationship with God? Of course, in some circles, talking about hearing God’s voice is on the same level with those extremists who handle snakes. “Why is it,” comedian Lily Tomlin asks, “that when we speak to God we are said to be praying but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic?” (p. 22)
Willard does a great job of “normalizing” the idea of hearing God’s voice. The Scriptures contain story after story of men and women who communicated with God. We have the same Holy Spirit inside of us. Why shouldn’t we expect the Holy Spirit to speak to us as well?
Hearing God outlines the variety of different ways that God communicates with his children. Willard takes us on a journey of what that might look like. It will be the same for everyone as God communicates in different ways with different people. At the same, there are some universal principles that hold true.
Another excellent resource that the book provides is a practical activity in most of the chapters to allow the reader to begin to hear from God through his Word. These are valuable exercises and will help someone, maybe for the first time, to begin to experience the Holy Spirit’s presence as they open the Scriptures.
Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God is one of those books that will be around a long time. If you ever struggle to hear God’s voice or to know his will for you life, this book is for you. In other words, this book is for everyone!
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