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Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Discerning the Voice of God" (Priscilla Shirer)

TITLE: Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking
AUTHOR: Priscilla Shirer
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers (new edition), 2012, (224 pages)

The book is a revised version of the very popular book about listening to God, recognizing God's voice, and to be reminded on the ways of God in guiding us. It is written in a very conversational and personal style which makes it easy reading. It invites the reader to eavesdrop on a conversation, and in the process learn a tip or two about what to do and what not to do with regards to discerning the voice of God. It is important to note that this book is about growing, and not about getting all the answers we need about spiritual discernment. Using biblical references, and several quotes from some popular writers on spirituality, Shirer is able to tell stories about how the various methods are practiced. She poses some practical questions of faith and doubt that many believers typically as. Her understanding of the anxious heart is clearly expressed which is one reason why this book is popular. Some of her reminders seem like evergreen spiritual notes for all believers.
  • Have we become hard of hearing?
  • Are we too impatient to wait for God?
  • Too busy for God?
  • Forcing God to toe our schedules?
  •  ...

Shirer teaches discernment through recognizing the different ways in which one can discern the voice of God. Readers can trust God to persevere in reaching out to them. They can trust God to be persistent. When there are challenges placed before them, it may be God communicating an important truth that can only be done that way. Shirer even brings in the key lesson of Job, in that what Job has benefitted is not the answers to the world's biggest question on suffering or the most pressing question about life. What Job himself has learned is a real experience of knowing God.  This is what this book is trying to bring about.

Closing Thoughts
Each chapter contains an exhortation to readers to listen up. The chapter challenges are particularly useful in a group discussion setting. Written in a simple style, readers will find it easy to jump in and engage with the book. Excellent for Bible studies and for anyone interested about experiencing God more personally through discerning his voice. For those of us who tend to look for more scholastic material, you may be disappointed. Personally, I feel that this book only scratches the surface of Christian discernment. There are many more books on Christian spirituality that we can benefit from in terms of learning about discernment. For instance, we have the modern writings from Dallas Willard, Peter Kreeft, Gary Friesen, Gordon T. Smith, and others. For those who want something heavier, there are the spiritual classics from St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis de la Sales, Thomas Aquinas, John Wesley, even Martin Luther.

For practical applications, this book excels. An important guideline when reading Christian book is this. If the book is pointing you to study and read the Bible more, it is definitely a good 'Christian' book. I hope this book will work for you in that respect.

Ratings: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Moody Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered are freely mine.

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