Only our communion with God provides the appropriate context for communications between us and him …. People who understand and warmly desire to hear God’s voice will want to hear it when life is uneventful just as much as when they are facing trouble or big decisions.
This classic book first published in 1984—now expanded and updated—has the potential of transforming the way we see God and relate to him, and also, the way we as a community of believers relate and interact with each other. A discipleship essential, it is an ideal center for a home group, Sunday School class or Bible Study to gather around and implement in their away-time, coming back to discuss questions and explore content in the context of community and fellowship. Of course, it may serve as a deepening, life altering personal study as well. New believers’ lives could be simplified and enriched with a gift of this book. Hearing God corrects a number of false concepts about God and our theological understanding around hearing from him (for example God as a controlling and harsh taskmaster, an answer slot machine, or fortune cookie). Throughout, Willard feeds our understanding about engaging with God—both in Scripture and in an ongoing conversation. There is also wisdom regarding leaders and those who leverage their “superior” knowledge of what God is saying to control. Although the book points out pitfalls and misconceptions about God speaking, the book is not defined by the “negatives” avoided, but all the life-giving, relational truth it shares and cultivates. Having a “personal relationship” with God loses its hollow ring and becomes reality. Interspersed are exercises in reading Scripture (lectio), reflecting on it (meditation), responding to it (prayer), and rest (contemplation) as an exercise in growing in the ability to hear God’s still small voice. Hearing God features an appendix that helps you find the answers to your most nagging Godspeak questions: “How can I know God is speaking to me?” “What am I to think when someone tells me that God told them something about me? Can I count on that?” “What Sort of Bible reading helps us become the kind of people who are better able to hear God?” And conversely, “What sort of use of the Bible does not help us hear God?” These questions among many others are addressed with clarity and pastoral care. Willard leaves us with the thought: “Spiritual people are not those who engage in certain spiritual practices; they are those who draw their life from a conversational relationship with God.”
Great conversation entails great listening and the knowledge that you are heard and loved. Gratefully God still speaks and he always listens. The question is, do we?