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Book Review: The Power of a Whisper

Submitted by jroos on Wed, 07/20/2011 - 20:08

In "The Power of a Whisper", Bill Hybels reminds us that just because not everyone has a Samuel experience (1 Samuel 3), that doesn't mean that we don't hear from God. God doesn't always speak in an audible voice. He spoke to Elijah in a whisper (1 Kings 19:9-18). For some, he speaks through other people. For many people he speaks directly to our mind through thoughts and strong impressions.

 
Given the various ways that God speaks to us, it's important to be able to discern and know that we're hearing God's voice. It's important that we learn to hear His voice. Hybels relates his own practice and the importance of reading scripture, meditating on it (he does so through journaling) and then praying. Hearing a whisper will likely not just happen - it takes practice to be able to discern.
 
Hybels suggests a number of filters through which we should screen any of these whispers:
 
  1. Is it really a message from God? Does it align with who you know God to be?
  2. Is it scriptural? Every prompting from God should be checked against scripture.
  3. Is it wise? God is a god of wisdom.
  4. Is it in line with your character? While God can take us places that are completely contrary to the way we're wired, he typically does so with a great deal of confirmation.
  5. Does it pass godly counsel? Find godly people you know and ask them to consider and pray about your whisper.
 
He makes the point that a whisper doesn't need to pass all of these tests - most of them are yellow flags that should raise caution. However, he points out clearly that messages that are not scriptural are certainly not from God. That's a red flag and any action related to the whisper should stop.
 
It's important to note that Hybels is not suggesting that we can or should receive new revelation - that's not what he's talking about at all. He's talking about individuals hearing scripturally sound messages from God that impact their personal lives and, through their obedience, the lives of others.
 
In one chapter on God's Written Whispers, Hybels pays particular attention to how God speaks to us through His word. The most predictable way to hear from heaven is through scripture. Hybels shares a list of verses organized topically that God uses to communicate truth to us. The topics are the truth about: salvation, assurance, fear, temptation, trials, pride, anger, wisdom, security, power, contentment, peace and you. As any good pastor would, he encourages readers to memorize these verses to combat the attacks of the enemy.
 
One particularly encouraging chapter for me was on how God's whispers have influenced Hybels' parenting. One such prompting changed how he related to and showed love to his quiet and introverted son. Others caused him to take actions (or not) with his daughter that he never would have chosen if listening to his flesh. The chapter was encouraging because, as the father of four young children, I am already seeing differences in their personalities and some of those differences are quite frustrating to me. I'm glad that when I need it, God will be there to point me in the right direction. All I have to do is practice listening for His voice.
 
Overall, this book offered me a great deal of hope. I've never really seen myself as someone who hears from God. Sure, I've had the occasional thought or impression that worked out in a miraculous way, but I've never been so bold as to attribute it to a word from the Lord.
 
I've also often thought that to hear from God, His voice must be audible (at least to me). It encourages me that I don't have to hear an audible voice to get a word from God.
 
I would certainly recommend this title to anyone who thinks they've heard from God or wants to learn to hear their Heavenly Father. There are a lot of messages going through our heads only some of them are placed there by God.
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