This article will be the first in a series in which I discuss the wisdom I have received (and am still receiving) from the book Hearing God by Dallas Willard. This book is all about how to develop a conversational relationship with God.
Willard says that when we look at all of the examples in the Bible of God’s intentions for His relationship with humans, God deals individually with each person. So, there is a tremendous amount of evidence in both Scripture and the history of the church of the existence of God’s personal guiding communication with us. But paradoxically, there is also a pervasive uncertainty about how hearing God’s voice actually works today. This leads to many believers having so little clarity on what they should expect God’s voice to be like and how to deal with it that it only leads to more confusion when His voice does come to them.
To resolve this paradox that hinders people in their relationship with God, Willard says they need a clear understanding of God’s usual ways of guiding and communicating with us. Three ideas need to be reviewed before actually looking at specifics for communicating with God.
First, it must be recognized that God’s communications to us come in many different ways and forms. But we need to know about the methods that God has generally preferred to use in the Bible and Christian experience. Second, believers may have wrong motives for wanting to hear from God. An extreme preoccupation with our own security and comfort rather than a Christ-like attitude to commune with the Father or seek others’ wellbeing may result in God keeping silent with us. Third, our understanding of God’s communication will be flawed if we have the wrong conception of God’s nature and His intentions toward us.