“Developing a conversational relationship with God” is the subtitle of Dallas Willard’s book “Hearing God.” Willard was a philosopher and respected Christian “teacher to the teachers” who went to be with Jesus in 2013.
Many of us who love someone with mental illness would like to speak with God. We want answers. And often we want direction.
Willard believed that God still speaks today. In fact, hearing God’s voice fits into the larger context of walking in a close friendship with him.
There is one caution: God speaks mostly to people who obey His teachings and want to do His will. Again: You need to be willing to do what God says before you are likely to hear his voice speaking to you.
As Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Abiding in Jesus minute by minute through Christian mindfulness puts us in a position to hear God specifying His will. We become as Willard wrote “someone who leads the kind of life demonstrated in the Bible: a life of personal, intelligent interaction with God.”
Feasting on God’s word
The Bible fixes the boundaries of everything that God will say to humankind, Willard wrote. Indeed, God speaks most often during Bible reading and study. Have you ever had a verse jump off the page to you, even though you’ve read it many times? That is God speaking.
But this can also happen while listening to another person, whether it be a sermon or a conversation. I also believe that synchronicity can point the way to a message. If you hear the same verse repeatedly … in Bible study, in a sermon and in a book you’re reading … it may be God emphasizing something to you.
God also speaks through dreams, visions and events. But most of the time he speaks through a small, still voice that can only be heard in quiet. God’s voice comes in a spirit of peace, joy and good will. So God’s voice sounds like Jesus. And we can only know what Jesus sounds like through Bible study.
Seven steps toward hearing God
This summary may help you as you seek to hear God’s voice.
- Begin with a prayer in Jesus’ name for protection from evil influences.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to listen well.
- Remain alert.
- Reject anything that is contrary to Biblical truth.
- Feel welcome to write down the thoughts that come for further study.
- Understand that real communications from God are:
- Biblically sound
- Glorify God
- Advance the kingdom
- Help people
- Help you to grow spiritually
- Thank God for the time together.
Walking with God in Christian mindfulness is a sweet time of communion. We should expect that God will help us learn what we should know and what we should do.