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Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

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"God spoke to me." "The Spirit spoke to my heart." "God revealed the idea to me." Being close to God means communicating with him--telling him what is on our hearts in prayer and hearing and understanding what he is saying to us. It is this second half of our conversation with God that is so important but that can also be so difficult. How do we hear his voice? How can we be sure that what we think we hear is not our own subconscious? What role does the Bible play? What if what God says to us is not clear? The key, says best-selling author Dallas Willard, is to focus not so much on individual actions and decisions as on building our personal relationship with our Creator. In this updated classic, originally published as In Search of Guidance, the author provides rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God's voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with him in the work of his kingdom.

228 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1984

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About the author

Dallas Willard

125 books782 followers
DALLAS WILLARD was a Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He taught at USC from 1965, where he was Director of the School of Philosophy from 1982-1985. He has also taught at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, 1960-1965), and has held visiting appointments at UCLA (1969) and the University of Colorado (1984).

His undergraduate studies were at William Jewell College, Tennessee Temple College (B.A., 1956, Psychology) and Baylor University (B.A., 1957, Philosophy and Religion); and his Graduate education was at Baylor University and the University of Wisconsin (Ph. D., 1964: Major in Philosophy, Minor in the History of Science).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 372 reviews
Profile Image for Jacob Aitken.
1,582 reviews267 followers
April 14, 2015
We all get nervous when people say “God spoke to me.” And sometimes rightfully so. Willard deconstructs both sides of the reaction and gives us a tour-de-force in philosophy as well. While we Evangelicals want to preserve the Bible’s integrity and maintain sane spiritualities, we don’t want to hyper-react in the opposite direction, and so Willard begins:

The goal is not hearing an audible voice from heaven, but cultivating a relationship that rests upon divine guidance. It is a humble dependence and openness upon God. Therefore, Willard’s steps to hearing God:

We learn to recognize the weight or force of God’s voice.
A certain spirit
And the content (180).

And for the most part, Willard does not think God will speak audibly to us (and so cessationists can start breathing again!), and certainly not in a way that will “add to the Bible,” whatever that (non)argument means. Rather, we would expect a “still, small voice” (86-116) that speaks in the form of “our own thoughts and perceptions” (Willard 182).

But that’s pure subjectivism, someone may respond? It is subjective, yes, but not viciously so. All interpersonal communication, even from the Bible, will be subjective. This is so because the thought-word-content passes from one speaking Subject to a receiving Object. The object, if obedient and listening, internalizes the content and in the re-speaking, will act as a new subject. The material has long since been subjectivized.

But does subjectivism mean pure relativism? We see no argument from the critic on why this is so. It is asserted loud and strong but rarely argued.

But how do you know it’s not from Satan? It’s a good question and Willard anticipates it. He notes, “We must not also overlook the fact that light only serves as Satan’s disguise because God is light, we are children in light and saints in light and God maketh his messengers a flame of fire. It would be strange if we came to shun the genuine just because it resembled the counterfeit” (88).

But we can go even further. Just because people are open to God still communicating today, we do not reject the Bible. The Bible’s contents can never be contradicted, though the Bible’s cultural intentions may certainly be bypassed at times.

A Philosophical Feast

Just some snippets:
~ Spirit is unbodily, personal force (120).
~~ God invites us into his kingdom, and his kingdom is life (122), a network of personal relationships, and a range of activities and responses (150).
*Words shape ontology, and so reality responds (131).
**There are degrees of power in speaking a word, and prayer heightens that power (134).
***The Bible is the written word of God, but the word of God is not simply the Bible (142). The “Word” can be:

a)eternally set in the heavens (Ps. 119:89).
b) the Logoi in the order of nature (Ps. 19:1-4).
c) Sown in the ministry of Christ (Mt. 13)
d) That which prevailed in Acts (12:24)

All of the above is the Word of God, but none of it is equated with the Bible. The “Word of God”, then, to borrow a page from Maximus the Confessor, is the systalic/diastatic movement of the Logos/logoi.

****God and the Soul meet in the invisible world because they are both invisible by nature.

Legalism, Superstition, and Magick

Willard has a very profound section on this point. Magick--the bad kind, not juggling--is the manipulation of symbolisms or special substances like effigies or incantations (137). These are usually impersonal by nature. When you had a spiritual, evil personality to it, you get Satanism.

Superstition is belief in magick, but Willard then points out: magick relies on alleged causal influences that are not mediated through nature. If I throw a rock and hit some innocent person, that is a sin, but it’s not magick. There is a 1:1 causal relation. If someone sticks needles in a doll, then act of sticking needles doesn’t actually produce ill effects.

But what of the overwhelming evidence that there are perceived ill-effects? Again, Willard’s wisdom: “The effects are produced from the realm of mind or spirit in a social context where a certain set of beliefs about voodoo or magical rituals are shared...The power involved is not the power of the ritual itself. It is the power of personal force...and perhaps the Satanic dimension of the spiritual realm” (138).
Profile Image for MG.
793 reviews9 followers
June 13, 2013
In honor of Dallas Willard's recent passing, I reread HEARING GOD. Filled with wise counsel and deep reflection, he begins with what should be obvious to all Christians: God wants to have an intimate daily relationship with us, one characterized by conversational communication. We are to expect God to guide, counsel, critique, and comfort us as he shapes us into his son's image. One mystery to me is why more Christian books are not preoccuppied with this very issue. How do we hear God and recognize his voice? Most Christians books either ignore or refute the very idea that God communicates directly to each of us, despite being in a tradition that expects everyone to have a conversion experience where they encounter God. Still, while Dallas Willard never won awards for the quality of his writing, he did earn fame and respect for his quality of thinking, and this book is full of needed wisdom and practical advice on an essential subject for all Christians who want to live a vital and mature Christian life.
Profile Image for Greg.
67 reviews5 followers
January 16, 2013
I have spent a lot of time with this book. I first had the privilege of being asked to review the audiobook from Christianaudio.com back in April 2012.
I listened to the book once, and knew that I had to get more info, so I purchased the ebook as well. Over the last 8 months I have listened to this book twice and read it once, working through it slowly and applying what is says.

Dallas Willard goes into a lot of depth on this subject and gives lots of practicals as well as the theology behind what he is saying. Willard also shares his personal experiences in this area, and debunks many myths as to why people think they do not hear God. He also shows some false notions of how to hear God’s voice.

The crux of the book is about developing a “conversational relationship” with God, that is, a 2-way conversation, rather than us just making our prayer speeches at God.

The audiobook was easy to understand, a bit fast and difficult to follow purely because of the huge amount of information contained. Grover Gardiner was the reader and his voice was clear any easily understood.

I still have a long way to go in this area, however now I have some direction and a firm foundation on which to peruse my own conversational relationship with God.

Some of the concepts that Willard covered I disagree with, however if you can show enough grace to look past the things that you disagree with, I am sure you will, as I did, get a lot out of this book.

If you have every asked these questions:

1. How can I know God is speaking to me?
2. What about when we don’t hear from God? When God doesn’t seem to answer us?
3. How do I know I’m not hearing the voice of Satan?
4. Why do some people seem not to hear God’s voice? What are they to do?
5. What am I to think when someone tells me that God told them something about me? Can I count on that?
6. What do leaders need to think about in terms of hearing God?
7. What sort of Bible reading helps us become the kind of people who are better able to hear God?
8. What sort of use of the Bible does not help us hear God?
9. How does our view of God affect if and how we hear God speak?
10. Is it true to say that hearing God isn’t very scientific?

You will find answers to these any many more in this book.
Profile Image for Claire Johnson.
48 reviews
January 30, 2022
This book is absolutely spectacular, I would recommend to every Christian I know. Probably any unbelievers who are wondering about the “God told me” stuff, too. Willard writes for every believer to learn something new and have a thing or two about their understanding of God‘s direction affirmed in clear and beautiful prose. I found myself shouting yes in agreement to much of this book, as well as marking all over the place to follow or dwell on some points and suggestions he made about hearing from God that were new or helpful to me.
Profile Image for Ali Tucker.
18 reviews1 follower
March 20, 2022
I am not exaggerating when I say that I am overwhelmed at trying to review this book.
I have never read anything like this. I need to collect myself for several, several weeks before I am able to articulate myself in a review.
If you are following me you need to read this. The content of this book will be a guiding light for me for the rest of my life in my relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And I believe that if you read this book, it will be a guiding light for you, for the rest of your life, as well.
In short, I am walking away from this book equipped to seek, listen, hear, and understand God’s voice - his individual communications with me.
If you have a yearning to learn how to hear God’s personal voice and words for you, individually, you must read this book.
Profile Image for Paul.
692 reviews67 followers
November 19, 2018
This was a group read for a Sunday morning Bible class in our church, and oh man, did I struggle to finish this. I simply did not enjoy Hearing God. At the risk of belaboring the point, here are a few reasons:

Philosophical/theological incoherence
Willard is writing to a mainly evangelical audience, which seems to limit where he wants to go. In other words, the book consistently reads like someone with more progressive views having to stuff them into a conservative/fundamentalist framework. The result is a mess of conflicting assumptions about the nature of God, Jesus and the Bible.

Individualistic assumptions
Connected to the previous problem, Willard has no cogent response for how to determine whether the voice we hear is actually God because, as required by his evangelical audience and assumptions, he does not do more than pay lip service to the notion of community as a primary lens through which to filter your beliefs (as opposed to solitary Bible reading and prayer).

Failure to acknowledge doubt
With the exception of the epilogue, which, um, isn't exactly a sign of taking it seriously, Willard simply assumes that hearing God is a thing that can and should happen. That's obviously a huge assumption in a modern/postmodern world, where theodicy, moral luck and scientific discovery pose significant challenges to traditional notions of God. That's not to say there aren't good answers to them, or even that they should be answered in this sort of book, but they should at least be acknowledged.

Wordy and passive prose
The text itself is difficult to read; it's too wordy, too circuitous, too passive and too repetitive. One can forgive a lot of disagreement and incoherence if it's at least written cogently. Hearing God isn't.

As with most books, there's still something to be gained from Hearing God. The central argument that communication with God should be conversational, not simply a series of commands regarding specific decisions in a person's life, is well taken. Unfortunately, Willard often undercuts this thesis by approvingly citing various anecdotes that raise the questions of theodicy and moral luck ("why would God speak to you to save your life but not the thousands of others who died that day?") that Willard never really addresses.

I was hoping for something much better given Willard's reputation and my own hopes for understanding better how God works in the lives of Christians, especially given the questions I have. In the end, the general incoherence of Willard's arguments combined with boring prose made this pure drudgery to get through. Very disappointing.
Profile Image for Jim.
183 reviews34 followers
April 5, 2022
The best teaching on hearing from God I’ve ever encountered. Dallas Willard is a genius, and I’m excited that there are still several books of his I have left to read.

The whole book is great but here are just a few of the highlights:
Chapter Two - Willard uses the parable of the bags of gold to explain how God trusts us to be involved in his work, and gives us the liberty and freedom to do it.
Chapter Five - Willard uses 1 Corinthians 2 to explain how we hear God's voice through our own thought life, showing the way Christians have been given "the mind of Christ." He also shows visions and dreams for what they actually are - a lesser form of communication with God.
Chapter Seven - "Born again" doesn't mean starting your life over, or having your sins washed away. It's a literal second birth - a birth into the spiritual world, a birth into the life that Adam and Eve had but lost.
Profile Image for Jimmy Reagan.
797 reviews29 followers
June 29, 2022
In my many years of reviewing books, this book is easily one of the best. In fact, it’s probably Top-10 for my whole life. I pray the Lord will help me retain the treasure that popped up page after page in this, strangely, under appreciated masterpiece. ( I’m sometimes an overly generous reviewer but I try to be frugal with the word “masterpiece”—it’s been 4 years since I used as a label for a book as a whole).

This isn’t a book where one fabulous idea is recycled repeatedly over the length of the book, but one that ascends until it crescendos at the very end. If this book can’t help you learn to hear God, you’re not listening…to the book or to God. I can only assume you have no interest in hearing what the Lord has to say. In that case, don’t even buy this book. It will be too dangerous for you to having lying around.

I’m amazed at how methodically he works through his subject. Every time you came to the end of a chapter, you’d think, well, that’s all that can be said and then the next chapter would be better. It may seem silly for a Christian life/theological/ Bible study title to make me decide not to give spoilers, but that is the case with this wonderful book. I want you to be able to be surprised by the depth, the enlightenment, the heart reaching, the soul piercing that confronts you page by page. I want you to be able to grow as you read desiring to be in a relationship with the Lord that transcends all you’ve known before, to want to hear Him for no other reason than it is Him.

There were a few places I couldn’t fully agree with something he said, but the book was so good that I suspect the fault lay with me.

A word of friendly advice: if you get to a place you think that he is leaving the subject and think about jumping ahead, don’t do it. Every page is essential to what you’re learning. There isn’t one superfluous idea in the book.

Every Christian ought to read this book. That most won’t is a strong, singular proof the world is broken. If Christians did read it, things would be different. We would be different. Christianity would be different. That won’t happen, but you can read it. Then you will be different.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Profile Image for Alexis Neal.
463 reviews55 followers
August 3, 2012
Here's the thing. It all comes down to what you mean by 'hearing' God.

Willard argues that our relationship with God should be conversational, that He should (and does) speak to us on a regular basis, if we can just hear Him. After all, the rest of our relationships are characterized by communication--why would our relationship with God be any different?

And I agree with him . . . up to a point. See, I believe God does speak to us. I just think He speaks to us first and foremost through His Word. Willard is quick to argue that surely this amazing God didn't just speak at one time in history and then just stop. Surely He speaks today. And I think He does. But again, I think the bulk of that 'speech' is contained in the Bible. God didn't just speak once and then stop. He spoke and He continues to imbue those spoken words with His Spirit--Himself--in the present. After all, non-Christians read the Bible all the time, but is God speaking to them? Speaking in the same way He speaks to His children when they read His Word? The Bible is not just words on a page--it is the very Word of an eternal, unchanging God. His Word is living. It is active. In this sense, I think we can say God continues to speak, today, through the Word He spoke in the past.

And of course, the Holy Spirit applies that Word to our lives. We read about the dangers of being easily angered, and we recall our short words with a co-worker. We read about the way marriage is a picture of the gospel, and suddenly we realize that our love hasn't been all that sacrificial of late. We read Paul's words extolling patience, and are struck by our own impatience. Or perhaps we're going about our day and we happen to notice a flower or a sunset or a friend who extends us grace, and we are reminded of God's mercy to us despite our sin. There may, of course, be an element of cognition behind these revelations--we are people possessed of working brains, and we can put two and two together, after all. But on some level, I think the Holy Spirit is working in us and guiding our natural thought processes. He is, after all, a counselor, a guide, a teacher.

Then, too, the Holy Spirit often speaks through the counsel of others. Wise, godly friends ask questions and raise concerns that we might never see for ourselves. Many Christians will share story after story of God 'speaking' to them through the chastisement or encouragement of a friend in Christ. Praise the Lord that He does not leave us to figure things out all on our own, but gives us His Word, His Spirit, and His people to help us.

Beyond that, well, I find myself torn. I cannot agree with those who say that God never speaks apart from the Bible--I think He does. But then, I also see the danger inherent in constantly seeking the 'voice of God' apart from His revealed Word. For one thing, it can tempt us to see God's Word as insufficient. This is a big problem. He has given us everything we need in His Word, and we should have a very high view of it. The more we study the Word, the more we see just how far it reaches into our lives, just how many situations it speaks to. Even if God never spoke a word to us outside the Bible, we would have enough.

In addition, this desire to hear from God constantly can cripple us and cause us to succumb to fear and anxiety. The truth of the matter is, God probably doesn't care which pair of socks you wear today. Not that He doesn't care about you, but He has given us a certain amount of freedom. We can choose among non-sinful options. Sometimes He may speak to us, encouraging us to do a particular thing. But more often than not, I think we are free to choose for ourselves, using the wisdom He has given us and being guided by the principles of His Word. And since there seems to be some evidence that the vast bulk of heavenly communication takes place either through the Word or through the Holy Spirit working in us in ways we cannot always perceive, I think teaching people that constant extrabiblical communication from God is a prerequisite for a healthy relationship with Him is a recipe for disaster, anxiety, and doubt.

However, assuming we maintain a high view of Scripture and don't spend our lives being paralyzed by fear that God has some secret will He is hiding from us or that we're not really Christians (or 'good' Christians) if God doesn't talk to us every day, I don't have a problem with allowing for the possibility that He may speak to us.

Willard has some deeply practical advice here, that avoids both pitfalls. When he faces some decision on which he wishes to seek the counsel of God, he prays about it (no surprise there). He asks God if He would like to address the issue (note that Willard neither assumes that God wishes to be 'heard' on every issue, nor presumes to tell God when to speak). He then goes and washes dishes or does some other mundane chore for an hour or so--something that will occupy his hands but not fully occupy his mind. I think this is a great idea. He doesn't sit and wait and listen so hard his ears bleed, but he simply goes about his day, being careful not to be so distracted by activity that he effectively drowns out the voice of God. Then if nothing happens in that hour or so, he just . . . continues with life as usual. If, after about three days, he has not 'heard' from God on the issue, he assumes that God wishes for him to make the decision on his own, to the best of his ability in light of Scripture and his own intelligence.

Note that there is no angsting here. No desperation. No panicked demand that God decide for him. Just a calm heart that makes space for the Lord to speak if He so chooses. This is, I think, great advice, and it was by far the high point of the book.

At the end of the day, this was sort of a 'fine' book. I worry that Willard overemphasizes extrabiblical communication with God. He uses some faulty logic (i.e., God spoke to the prophets, so God must speak to us in the same way, even though a) we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so the method of communication may in fact be very different, and b) the prophets were being inspired in an era that predates the completion of the Canon, so God was not just speaking to them as His people but creating His eternal Word). Still, it's not a bad book, and I don't think Willard is by any means heretical in his teaching. I'm just a little leery of his views on how God speaks to His people.

One final note: I listened to the audiobook edition, narrated by Grover Gardner--who did a fine job, though I found it a little distracting to hear Louis Wu talking about the voice of God. I realize the world of audiobook narration is a small one, and folks are bound to narrate a wide variety of books over the course of their careers. But Gardner's voice is so distinctive, I couldn't help but be a little distracted.
Profile Image for Barbara.
534 reviews23 followers
June 13, 2008
This was a perhaps too-timely read for me. I started reading it in November, and finished in January--reading it throughout my most confused months of discernment/decision making after returning from South Africa. It did seem a little too obvious to read a book titled "In Search of Guidance" during this time.

I knew from the outset that reading this book wasn't going to answer all my questions or give me some sort of formula that if followed would yield instructions on exactly what steps to take next. But I think I like to look for formulas and instructions regardless. This book (thankfully) isn't that.

When making big life decisions, I consistently go to God asking for directional answers, specific instructions as to what to do. Reading this book was another very needed reminder that God doesn’t generally work that way. No “Hey, Barbara, go back to South Africa” messages came during this time in my life or through my reading of this book. But what I needed far more than specific instructions (though I often frustratedly think specifics would be preferable) was summed up by the book’s subtitle: “Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.”

Ultimately, the message Willard conveys is that guidance comes through relationship. We must place ourselves into a conversational relationship with God and guidance will flow from that. You can’t skip the relationship and expect to hear God’s voice. During these months, I commented more than once that I kept going to God with directional questions, and he kept responding with heart answers: calling me to deeper relationship, to trust, and to stepping out in faith. I’d ask: “Where do I go?” and He would answer: “Be with me.” As frustrating as that can be, that’s exactly what I need. Not just when I’m making huge life decisions, but always.
Profile Image for Shaun Lee.
191 reviews3 followers
November 3, 2018
The target audience would be novice readers as the depth of theology is kept at an accessible level and the material is easy-to-read. I picked this book because many other authors I've read quoted from Willard, and guessed that he must be a giant in this area of theology. However, I did not enjoy the read as much as I thought I would; I did not find the content engaging or soul-piercing. I wish that the content wasn't expanded, because many chapters provided for a rather tedious read; it may be better for a heavy dose of brevity/editor's hand to be utilised, also by cutting out excess material, shrinking the 300 pages to 200. Unfortunately, in this instance, bigger is not always better.

While Willard may have intended the book to read like a biblical-theological executive summary, I felt that the bible was used as a proof-text or eisegetical aid to elaborate/illustrate his points. I was uncomfortable with the brief and numerous quotations of Scripture texts/narratives were used to support his substantives. At times Willard quotes from other famous theologians, but another weakness of the book is the lack of personal anecdotes and illustrations. If I could use Randy Clark and Bill Johnson as examples (this is not meant as an endorsement of all of the latter's teaching), their books are engaging and exciting because of the numerous stories and testimonies that illustrate a principle they are trying to teach - regrettably, these are lacking in this title. I read other reviews with amusement (the gripe was that the later chapters were theoretical), but I am in agreement that Willard somehow seems to be communicating a topic that he does not personally have a personal experience in.

I cannot recommend this book because of all the abovementioned flaws. Instead, I'd recommend Kevin Deyoung's Just do Something or Bruce Waltke's Finding the Will of God.
Profile Image for Caleb Stober.
82 reviews1 follower
April 6, 2020
A beautiful book. I wish someone had given this to me, or better yet, taught me its principles 10 years ago when I first began struggling with the concept of knowing God.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
615 reviews26 followers
August 29, 2021


Notes:

Six ways God addresses people within the biblical record
1. A phenomenon plus a voice
2. A supernatural messenger or an angel
3. Dreams and visions
4. An audible voice
5. The human voice
6. The human spirit or the “still, small voice”

Two questions to ask of scripture
1. What is my life like since this is true?
2. How shall I speak and act because of this?

Three lights in discerning God’s voice
1. Circumstances
2. Impressions of the Spirit
3. Passages from the Bible
- “When these three things point in the same direction, it is suggested, we may be sure the direction in which they point is the one God intends for us.”
- “The circumstances of our daily life are to us an infallible indication of God’s will, when they concur with the inward promptings of the spirit and with the Word of God. So long as they are stationary, wait. When you must act, they will open, and a way will be made through oceans and rivers, wastes and rocks.” Frederick B. Meyer



Quotes:

“My Son had strains that you will never know, and when he had those strains he turned to me, and that’s what you should do.”

In close personal relationships, conformity to another’s wishes is not desirable, be it ever so perfect, if it is mindless or purchased at the expense of freedom and the destruction of personality. This is a point that must be grasped firmly as we come to think about God’s relationship with his human creation and about what his love for us means.

[Jesus’s] obedience was something that rested in his mature will and understanding of his life before God, not on always being told “Now do this” and “Now do that” with regard to every detail of his life or work.

“Today there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the side of Physics approaches almost to unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.” Sir James Jean

“It is not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate

In our highly fragmented society that is dominated by gadgetry and technology, lonely and alienated people are ready prey for any person who comes along and speaks with confidence about life and death—especially when that person has some degree of glamour and professes to speak for God.

“Brethren, our system will not work without the Spirit of God, and I am glad it will not... Our system was never intended to promote the glory of priests and pastors, but it is calculated to educate manly Christians, who will not take their faith at second-hand.” Charles Spurgeon

Knowledge tends to be destructive when held by anything less than a mature character thoroughly permeated by love and humility. That is true even in the secular areas of life. Few things are more terrifying in the spiritual arena than those who absolutely know but who are also unloving, hostile, proud, superstitious and fearful.

Human beings were once alive to God. They were created to be responsive to and interactive with him… They became dead in relation to the realm of the Spirit—much as a kitten is dead to arithmetic... They ceased to be responsive and interactive in relation to God’s cosmic rule in his kingdom. It would be necessary for God to confer an additional level of life on humans through “being born from above” (Jn 3:3). This would enable them once again to be alive to God, to be able to respond toward him and to act within the realm of the Spirit… It is a matter of an additional kind of birth, whereby we become aware of and enter into the spiritual kingdom of God. Imagine an otherwise normal kitten that suddenly begins to appreciate and compose poetry, and that image will give you an impression of the huge transition involved in this additional birth. This additional birth is brought about by God’s word and Spirit, and it is spiritual in its effects.

It is a proven fact that many who read the Bible in this way, as if they were taking medicine or exercising on a schedule, do not advance spiritually. It is better in one year to have ten good verses transferred into the substance of our lives than to have every word of the Bible flash before our eyes. Remember that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). We read to open ourselves to the Spirit.

Faith is not opposed to knowledge; it is opposed to sight. And grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning.

We treat God like a celestial aspirin that will cure headaches brought on by the steady, willful tendency of our lives away from and even against him. We treat him as a cosmic butler who is to clean up our messes. To compel him to serve us, we seek gimmicks and tricks suited only to idols.

Jesus came to respond to the universal human need to know how to live well. He came to show us how, through reliance on him, we can best live in the universe as it really is. That is why he said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). His supremacy lies in the greatness of the life he gives to us. Putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition with all known alternatives is the only way we can give our faith a chance to prove his power over the whole of life.
Profile Image for Jeanne Higgins.
318 reviews2 followers
August 26, 2019
Diving deep into Hearing God

This is a well-written, well researched, thoughtful and intelligent discussion of how to hear God and how to live more fully in the spiritual realm. Great insights. This book is weighty so devote time. Do the lectio divina. Don't rush through it. Pray throughout it.
11 reviews
August 4, 2022
A great resource to assist in recognising His quiet voice, and provides a lot of material to work through. Definitely a book to reread many times.
March 18, 2023
This book has absolutely changed my prayer life and relationship with God. I will come back to it again and again.
August 22, 2022
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It has revolutionized the way I think about communing with God.

My favourite part of the book are the exercises he has in a few chapters about how to read the Bible and hear from God effectively. Each time I did the exercises, I heard from the Lord.

This book is worth every penny.
Profile Image for Amanda.
250 reviews56 followers
July 23, 2011
I positively adore this book. It is written in a simple, plain style that anyone can read and understand, but it is best read slowly, as a topic of this magnitude is no small undertaking. The author takes on some controversial topics but deals with them in a gentle and logical manner; for example, the misconception that a life guided by God is easy or risk-free, or that divine guidance means were are singled out to be special. He plainly says that anyone can develop a conversational with God, and that God will never try to trick us into doing the wrong thing. What I found most important in reading this book was the chapter in which the author leads us to examine our motives in wanting to speak to God. He warns against trying to "use" God so that we can exalt ourselves to a place of spiritual authority; approaching God with fear and insisting that he direct every aspect of our lives so that we can feel "safe;" and treating God as a kind of "cosmic butler" that should be at our beck and call to clean up our messes. Instead, the author gently leads the reader into wanting to live in freedom as one of God's children, and then shows us how we can do it. I highly recommend this book to any Christian who is serious about hearing God.
1 review
March 10, 2021
Easily one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. I have just finished the book, but I expect a lifetime of learning as a result of finishing it. Dallas Willard is such a gifted teacher; he knows the way of Jesus and communicates it in a thoughtful, intelligent yet digestible way. In my opinion, his effectiveness in communication and teaching are magnified in this book as he addresses one of the most controversial and misunderstood topics in Christendom today: discerning the voice of God. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone searching for a biblically sound, doctrine based, experiential commentary on hearing the voice of God. I’ll end the review by quoting one of the quotes on the back of this book as I’ve identified greatly with the sentiment shared by Bill Hybels: “few books have challenged me like this one. I would urge every serious-minded Christian to read it...at your own risk”
Profile Image for Meshach Kanyion.
49 reviews4 followers
July 10, 2021
This is easily the most helpful book on prayer that I have ever read. He approaches the topic from the vantage point of those who ask questions such as, How do I know it's God speaking? and similar ones. And while he answers those questions he directs the reader to understand prayer in terms of a life, and not just a moment. I love Willard's books, my favorite being The Divine Conspiracy, but this book has been the most helpful in terms of my own spiritual transformation and growth. Please read it several times.
378 reviews
July 12, 2018
Dallas Willard is an author I respect and appreciate. It is refreshing to read a book that resonates with my soul. While there were a few parts of this book that felt like wading through treacle, for the most part, I found it lifted my heart to God. While I have already grown to have an confidence that God is communicating with me, Willard builds a gentle, but sound case for the whys and hows of conversing with God. I appreciate how he breaks down misconceptions and brings new expectations. He encourages me to want more and to believe that I CAN have it.
Profile Image for Brian Eshleman.
831 reviews103 followers
June 8, 2012
Foundational Truths expressed with a knack for clarity and the penetrating phrase. If you are looking for the magic formula to conjure up God giving you direction to your comfort, will or won't help you and will convict you. If, however, you seek an ever-deepening conversation with God as a part of humbling yourself before Him, Willard makes a competent and compassionate guide.
April 5, 2017
Refreshing while insightful. Willard is at times difficult to read and to follow in the line of thought but with patience his writing brings clarity and depth. Hearing God is a book that I recommend to anyone who tired of all the superstition and fake spirituality, but longs for a constant, continual relationship with the Lover of our soul, Jesus Christ.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,737 reviews37 followers
February 4, 2016
Among the books I've read about Christianity, this was one of the most challenging. None of it really went down easily, and it prompted some serious introspection. This one will be on my mind for a long time.
Profile Image for Crystal.
Author 1 book26 followers
April 3, 2017
I enjoyed this book and would certainly would recommend it for new believers or for those believers who want to deepen their relationship with God. Willard's direction is solid and trustworthy and will resonate with those who seek God.
Profile Image for Bob.
530 reviews11 followers
August 25, 2019
Really terrific book: I've been wanting to read a book about this subject from this perspective for a long time, and this was exactly what I needed. I will be thinking about this for some time I expect. I need to read more books by Dallas Willard.
Profile Image for Brett Leyde.
73 reviews
March 23, 2020
Beautiful and inspiring. Definitely helps to remove some mystery and doesn't empower individuals to prooftext. Good time spent!
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