Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer or How to Recognize When God Speaks

Book Summary

I picked up this book from our church library. It was not filed in the Women’s section but Priscilla is definitely targeting it for women. That said – I think it is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to start out learning to listen to God. The whole focus is not on how to discern or recognize God when He speaks – but rather a high level summary of: the what; the how and our response to God’s voice. Note: These notes are from the 2007 edition. She basically re-wrote the book in 2012.  There is almost no correlation between that edition and the one I am reviewing.

First off, I want to say I love the way she organized the book. There are five parts:

    • Part 1: Hearing God’s Voice – This part has the two basics that we teach: Expect to Hear Him and Just do it – practice the spiritual discipline of listening
    • Part 2: Communicating with God Today – This part could be subtitled: An Invitation to Intimacy with God
    • Part 3: Revealing God’s Character – This part could be subtitled: What to Primarily Expect while Listening to God
    • Part 4: Discovering God’s Plan – This part focuses on the guidance component of listening to God.
    • Part 5: Responding to God’s Plan – The Hebrew word for listen is integrally linked to obedience to God’s voice.

In addition, each chapter contains the following sidebars:

    • A Saint Speaks – where she quotes other Christian’s response to the topic she is addressing
    • He Speaks – quotes from the Bible about the topic
    • How do you Know it’s God’s Voice? – Descriptions from others about how they discern God’s voice.

I love the chapter titles that describe God’s voice as:

    • Marvelous
    • Guiding
    • Verifiable
    • Persistent
    • Revealing
    • Peaceful
    • Powerful
    • Invitational
    • Timely
    • Fatherly
    • Challenging

I would agree with all of these as descriptors of God’s voice and will probably include it the next time we introduce listening to a group.

Notable Quotes

“Those who do not believe God speaks specifically will simply ignore or explain away all the times when God does communicate with them. However, those who spend each day in a profound awareness that God does speak are in a wonderful position to receive His word.” A. W. Tozer

“If we come to Him doubting His ability to speak, we will have a difficult time listening. So we must come expectantly.” Charles Stanley

“If you want to hear God’s voice clearly and you are uncertain, then remain in His presence until He changes this uncertainty. Often much can happen during this waiting on the Lord. Sometimes He changes pride into humility; doubt into faith and peace; sometimes lust into purity. The Lord can and will do it.” Corrie Ten Boom

“Conversing with the Father is colored by the needs of the day. Let your prayer be something definite, arising either out of the Word which you have read, or out of the real soul needs which you long to be satisfied. Let your prayer be so definite that you can say as you go out, ‘I know what I have asked from my Father, and I expect an answer.” Andrew Murray

“Note well, that we must hear Jesus speak if we expect Him to hear us speak. If we have no ear for Christ, He will have no ear for us.” Charles Spurgeon

“We can make our heart a chapel where we can go anytime to talk to God privately. These conversations can be so loving and gentle, and anyone can have them.” Brother Lawrence

“I close my eyes to shut out visual stimuli … I close my ears by dealing authoritatively with distractions that threaten my ability to tune in to God. I close a series of shutters on the surface level of my life, thus holding at bay hindrances to hearing the still small voice of God …” Joyce Huggett

“Listening to God today is not about newness but about nowness.” Joyce Huggett

“I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” Isaiah 45:3

“Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all.” Oswald Chambers

Minor Points of Disagreement

A couple of minor quibbles with the book. In most cases, I don’t think she really means what these statements say.

Priscilla says that the “Father’s greatest goal is for us to grow into our full spiritual potential…” I think the Father’s goal is much greater than this:  that we would fully grow to conform to the image of Christ; that we would achieve a oneness with the Trinity and with God’s people are two goals of the Father that are greater.

She also says: “Hearing God’s voice is impossible for someone who hasn’t yet been born of the Spirit.” Saint Peter heard the Father’s voice concerning Jesus’ being the Messiah.  None of us would become followers of Jesus if we did not hear His voice before we were born of the Spirit.

Finally, quoting a friend, she says that “God’s supernatural activity is so evident in my life because I have decided the only appropriate response to Him is complete obedience.” I am so thankful that God’s supernatural activity is so evident in my life not because of my complete obedience but because of His grace towards me and that I look for God’s supernatural activity.




Book Summary: Is that really You, God?

Is that Really You - Available from Amazon
A good introduction to listening to God is the book I just finishedby Loren Cunningham entitled Is that really You, God? Hearing the Voice of God. The book traces the history of the founding of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) with particular concentration on listening to God. I think you will enjoy this easy read as much as I did. It often moved me to tears and more importantly, moved me to draw closer to Jesus.
Here are some of the principles Loren was taught in the process of starting YWAM.
Youth with a Mission LogoThe three steps to hearing God:
1. First, we took Christ’s authority to silence the enemy.
2. Second, we asked the Lord to clear from our minds any presumptuous and preconceived ideas.
3. Third, we waited believing he would speak in the way and in the time that he chose.
Here are some quotes from the book:
One of the principles we use in seeking guidance is ongoing confirmation, similar to the road signs you would look for on an unfamiliar highway.
One of the most trustworthy tests for valid guidance is this: Does it bring the people who are involved one step closer to freedom and maturity in the Lord? If this is not so, the guidance is probably suspect.
Divine guidance is so heavy, so spectacular, that there is the risk of Glory attaching itself to the work rather than to the Lord.
Success itself is the most dangerous obstacle to properly hearing the voice of God.
Twelve steps to hearing God’s voice:
1. Don’t make hearing God complicated. Here are 3 simple steps:
a. Submit to Jesus’ lordship
b. Resist the enemy
c. Expect an answer
2. Allow God to speak to you in the way He chooses.
3. Confess any unforgiven sin
4. Use the Axehead principle from 2 Kings 6. If you seem to have lost your way, go back to the last time you knew the sharp, cutting edge of God’s voice. Then obey. Have you obeyed the last thing God told you to do?
5. Get you own leading. God will use others to confirm your guidance, but you should also hear from Him directly
6. Don’t talk about your guidance until God gives you permission to do so. The four pitfalls of divine guidance are:
a. Pride
b. Presumption
c. Missing God’s timing and method
d. Bringing confusion to others
7. The Wise Men Principle. God will often use two or more spiritually sensitive people to confirm what His tell you (2 Cor 13:1)
8. Beware of counterfeits. Only things of value are worth counterfeiting.
9. Opposition of man is sometimes guidance from God.
10. Every follower of Jesus has a unique ministry
11. Practice makes perfect
12. Relationship is the most important reason for hearing the voice of the Lord
A good friend of mine who pastors a church here locally told me that they keep this book by their bedside table!  High Praise! To read more about learning to listen to God, check out our post on Listening Prayer.