I have been quite discouraged lately, and I felt my prayers were like monologues. I did try to listen and I did read the Bible but when it came to my prayers, it was like facing a wall.
That was when I went searching for good books on Christian living and spirituality and found Dallas Willard's Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. I immediately bought a copy and started reading it straightaway.
by Dallas Willard, IVP, 2012
It is an excellent book.
Willard firmly says that God do speak to us and we do hear him when we listen. He says, "people are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to...he can and does guide us by addressing us."
One of my favourite parts of the book was when Willard used this analogy to explain why we need to be in Christ, to be given a new life to live and breathe in him, and how if we are dead to him we will never see or understand him and in the same way if we are dead to the world, and alive in Christ, we should not be "understanding" or succumbing to the world. He writes, "Though alive as a cabbage, it is dead to the realm of play. Similarly, a kitten playing with the string can make no response to numbers or poetry, and in that sense the kitten is dead to the realm of arithmetic and literature...without this [new] birth we cannot recognise God's workings: we do not possess the appropriate faculties and equipment. We are like kittens trying to contemplate a sonnet."
In all my life, thus far, I am absolutely sure that God literally spoke to me, though not in an audible voice, twice. And in both times, with only two words. Brief, but powerful. My life and my faith have certainly been strengthened as a result.
Willard has now helped me confirm it and I am now nudged into pursuing this continuing conversation with God that I hope will grow into communion with him and finally a union with my God.
p/s I just discovered that Dallas Willard has just died recently on May 8, 2013, aged 77. Here is a tribute to him by John Ortberg.