How to Hang Out with God

hearing god in conversationUsually I like to finish reading a book before I recommend it to someone else. Today I’m making an exception. I’ve read enough of Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C. Williamson, to know that I didn’t want to wait another moment to recommend it. This is a book I can recommend to every believer—and perhaps even you who doubt God’s existence.

I’ve written about this topic before; see Did You Say Something? from July, 2013 for one such post. I don’t intend to rehash what I wrote then, as I doubt I could express my thoughts much better now. This book, however, surpasses my little post in all ways. Of course, he gets to use an entire book to do so.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

Above all else, God wants us to know him personally—he wants a personal relationship. But we mostly want to know direction: “Should I take this job or that job?” We want information; God wants a conversation. We want to know answers; God wants us to know him.

… false expectations about hearing God cause us to overlook the many ways he actually does speak to us.

In all the biblical accounts of men and women who hear God’s word, their principal emotion is fear, not peace; that’s why all the messengers have to exclaim, “Fear not!”

The book covers all the different ways we hear from God, but it goes far beyond that. Chapters include “How to Recognize the Voice of God,” “Hearing God’s Voice for Others,” and “God Shouts in His Silence,” among others. Williamson not only explains what God’s voice is like, but what it isn’t like. In short, he answers all the questions I didn’t even know I had about listening prayer.

For example, one of my ongoing concerns is if I’m really hearing my voice, not God’s.  When it’s something I very much want to do—or not do—does my voice drown out the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit? Am I hearing what I want to hear, instead of what God is saying? Williamson addresses these concerns in chapter 9: “Hijacking the Conversation.”

Williamson’s style is easy and entertaining to read. All this Godly wisdom is couched in stories about his childhood—how he learned these truths from his parents and now passes them along to us. He writes with humility, and grace for those of us learning God’s ways. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers (although he sure has a lot of them!), but rather shares his understanding, learned through his experience of walking with God for many years.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you may recognize Williamson as the author of Is Sunday School Destroying our Kids?, which I reviewed and recommended back in 2014, as well as the blogger behind Beliefs of the Heart, which I list at right under “Blogs I Read.” Obviously, I’m impressed by the wisdom and insight God has granted him. He’s a pastor in Michigan; if we lived closer, I’d definitely check out his church.

You can find Hearing God in Conversation online at Amazon, etc., and in Christian bookstores. And no, I don’t get paid for writing this glowing review!

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Road Trip!

Pete and I love road trips. When we fly, we miss everything between our home and our destination, but with a road trip we can turn off at every interesting sign. (I particularly like brown signs, as they usually imply some sort of natural feature or wildlife refuge.)

Ten years ago, during a particularly stressful time in our lives, Pete gave me the gift of a month-long road trip, all by myself. I had the luxury of wandering wherever God led, while he took care of everything at home. (Yet another reason I adore my husband!)

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Prayer is a Two-way Conversation (Part 2)

This is the conclusion of part 1 that I posted last week.

Now that I’ve laid out my case for God’s desiring a two-way conversation with us, rather than a monologue, it’s time for some hard questions. How do we go about achieving this ideal? How can we listen to God? How do we know it’s Him speaking?

God is the initiator of the relationship we have with Him. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, and hid from God, He came looking for them. Genesis 3, verse 9 is the beginning of a long dialog among Adam, Eve, and God: “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’”  Even though Adam and Eve had sinned, God still wanted their company—and God still pursues us today.

I’m grateful that God wants to talk to me so much that He’ll go to great lengths to do so. Think how foolish Balaam must have felt, when God had to speak to him through his donkey! I certainly don’t want to take after Balaam. Since Jesus died to restore my relationship with God, I want to make it easy for Him! I want to open my ears and eagerly join the conversation.

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Prayer is a Two-way Conversation (Part 1)

Recently, I spent an entire day in prayer. A very close friend was having serious surgery, and I felt compelled to wait before God on her behalf. Not so many years ago, I would have been unable to maintain an attitude of prayer for anywhere close to an hour, much less a day. While I would have had the same good intentions, I just couldn’t think of that much to say to God. Then I realized that prayer is a two-way conversation.

A few days later, I was discussing this with another friend:

Friend: I hate repeating myself in prayer. That’s why I don’t do as much of it as others. One reason, at any rate. I either find myself quickly addressing all the things on my heart and then ending the call, so to speak, or I keep digging and stretching and reaching for little things and obscure people to bring up, just to meet some bizarre prayer length quota.

Me: Try listening instead of talking; it’s very hard to have a one-way conversation with anyone.

Friend: I already feel like I’m talking to the ceiling. There’s never been much to hear. Sorry, but revelation is not for me.

Me: Sorry, I refuse to believe that. But listening is a learned skill, and you might need practice.

Does God, who must be awfully busy running the universe, actually talk to us? All of us? Or was this person right in assuming they just weren’t special enough to hear from God?

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