Hearing God with Dallas Willard

God is speaking, He is speaking to human beings, yet so many people’s experience is that they do not hear him speaking to them.

I listened to a great short interview with Dallas Willard on his book, Hearing God – Dallas recognises a strong temptation to knowing God’s will but only in decision moments rather than to, as he puts it “Live our whole lives before God”. The first way instrumentalises God into a GPS, the second actually moves towards realising the relational “God with us”.

I thought I’d bullet point some of his ideas/thesis relating to how we hear God;

  • Hearing God should be the normal Christian life.
  • God doesn’t talk all the time, and not when we want him to.
  • If God doesn’t speak, we are not out of His will,
  • He wants us to choose sometimes.
  • God has spoken in scipture, and much of what he wants to do (in reference to knowing his will) is on public record
  • God speaks to those are “set to do His will”
  • God doesn’t sound like how we would think of God’s voice (not loud and overpowering)
  • One of God’s problems is not to simply overwhelm us a blow us away, intentionally it is that way, he doesn’t want us to be robots and loose our agency.
  • Human relationships have more varied forms of communication than just voices, the same with God. We should look for God’s hand in our lives, in history, and in scripture.
  • An Audible voice is certainly a possiblity, but silence in a living relationship can be a method of communication.
  • The most common way of God speaking is a particularly characteristic type of thought, and we learn to recognise that through experience. Just in the same way we can learn hear a close friend by voice.
  • God rarely shouts, He is not willing to compete for our attention, the rule is, we should seek Him.
  • Samuel thought he was hearing Eli, but is guided by Eli to respond God’s voice.
  • We can harden ourselves to God, and be left alone by God. Which is the worst thing that can happen to a human.
  • Being spoken to God doesn’t make a saint out of you, neither the donkey or Balam are sanctified by simply hearing (or indeed speaking) God’s voice.
  • Every form of Christian life produces of style of living. Anytime a Christian performs religiously solely because it is time, it is forcing it.
  • Hearing God itself is more important than getting an answer for the problem we might be facing.
  • God wants to speak to us more than when we are in need of a specific answer.
  • In Gideon’s story with the fleece, as he asks for it to be repeated, God does not scold. In James we are invited to ask God for wisdom who gives generously and does not scold.
  • God does not overwhelm us with His presence and overwhelm our lives, He wants our character to develop. Character in children doesn’t develop until parents get off their back and give them space for decision making.
  • This gives people the impression that God is making it hard, is a trickster, if we continue to be unclear we can keep asking for more.
  • 3 Lights in listening to God; Circumstances, Scripture and Holy Spirit; they won’t help you if you are not used to listening and hearing God. We can and often must go against circumstances. Sometimes we end up in bible roulette, open and point your finger. Then sometimes if we are not used to hearing the Spirit we come away with something unscriptural. These 3 things put together can not substitute the learning of hearing God’s voice.
  • Helping children hear God; Fill their minds with bible stories. By your example and teaching, encourage them to step out and experiment.
  • What should we do in times of silence? We must ask directly, is there something that is keeping you from speaking to me? Rely on God to make clear to us what it is. Look to a trusted Christian friend. Once you have made every effort to seek what might be wrong and change it. Then you must assume it is God’s will to decide. He will be as close to you in that as he would have been had he spoken.
  • The main way God speak is not by talking or giving us feelings, but acting with us.

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