Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard. Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL (2012).
My father attended church only occasionally, but he had a unique, personal relationship with God. His best time to commune with God was when he was tending his garden. He believed that one’s relationship with God was a personal, private thing, and that having an institution tell him how and when he should worship God was just wrong.
Maybe that’s why I feel the way I do about devotional books. My attitude is that another author can tell me what works in their devotional life, but they shouldn’t make general statements about what works for all people. I also have a problem with theologians who seem to have God all figured out. If one looks at Biblical history, every time mankind has thought they knew what God had planned, He up and surprised them.
All that being said, I did appreciate Dallas Willard’s book, Hearing God. I received it as a gift when school started–I think it was two years ago–and because I have been curious about what others had to say about communicating with God, I decided to use it for my devotional book. For the past two months I have been reading it in the mornings, digesting a couple of pages, then closing the book and meditating over what I had just read. I think Willard has some really good things to say. In addition to his own thoughts, he draws from other authors, evangelists, pastors and theologians, some of which he actually disagrees with. The only bad part of this for me was that he gets a little deep into splitting hairs over theology, something that other theologians might be concerned about, but not me.
For me, it’s all about the daily walk with God, the ability to express myself and hear God’s response. It’s about knowing that I am doing God’s will, or if I am not, knowing it is God who is telling me I need to change my path. And that’s in here. Here’s an example from page 138-139:
“Nowhere is it more important to be in a conversational relationship with God than in our prayer life. Often God does not give us what we ask for, but I believe that he will always answer, always respond to us in some way….When a request is denied, does this then mean that there has been no response? Some people say that God’s silence is an answer in these cases. But I think that if we know how to listen, God will normally tell us something when he does not give us our requests. We will hear it and grow through it if we have learned to recognize and acknowledge his voice.”
There’s a lot of positive to be gleaned from this book. I recommend it to any reader who is concerned about whether God is talking to them, and how to go about hearing Him better.