Can You Hear God Now? addresses the specific question of whether or not Christians believe God speaks to them individually. Many people pray, but few listen to God. Susan Roberts surveyed hundreds of people from various backgrounds, religious affiliations, genders, and ages, from twenty-four states and three foreign countries, to determine if and how they communicate with God. The survey reveals interesting trends in today’s thinking about hearing God and how God speaks in a variety of fascinating ways. Many of those surveyed even share stories about their personal interaction with God. Can You Hear God Now? combines these stories with Biblical principles to encourage readers to develop their own two-way communication with God, making their spiritual lives come alive.
“The world is full of noise, but Susan Roberts’s prayerful Can You Hear God Now? cuts through it all to find some needed holy clarity . . . It imparts confidence that hearing God’s voice is a result of preparedness and openness to hearing what God has to say.” —Foreword Reviews
“May be one of the most useful recent books on Christian faith and living . . . A book very much worth reading, studying, and applying.” —Col. Alexander Shine (ret. army), lay leader for military chapels and Officer Christian Fellowship
“Susan Roberts’ stories are credible and provide inspiring examples of God’s interactions with normal and sane people. Her book brings acuity to our ears.” —Dr. Marshall Shelley, director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, Denver Seminary
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
ARE YOU CRAZY?
Are people who hear God mentally ill?
Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.
Campus was abuzz with rumors and speculation. A beloved yet controversial professor was scheduled to speak in chapel. He had dropped a few teasers in his classes, so anticipation was high. Chapel was packed.
His topic of the day was "The Silence of God." The premise? God no longer speaks today. He has become silent. Do you see prayers answered and miracles? Do you see revival? Do you see sinful nations and people being punished? The wicked prosper. The virtuous suffer. Where is God? We are on our own to figure it out.
In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
"The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it."
The timer light on the back wall of the chapel flashed. In defiance, the professor ignored it. "I'm not done yet," he asserted. The dean of the faculty, behind him on the stage, stood up and handed him a note. He let it slip to the floor, as he continued speaking. Students hung on his every word. Some self-wise students smiled smugly, nodding their heads in all-knowing agreement. It was about time somebody spoke the truth. But others shifted uncomfortably in their seats. This was not right. Of course God is still around. Of course He answers prayer. Of course He speaks. We haven't entered an age of silence from God!
After the service, students started talking. The debates were heated. Bibles appeared. The majority shared stories of recent times when God had spoken, answered prayer and performed miracles. The discussions continued far into the evening. The professor himself was experiencing a dark time of God's silence, but he hoped that in examining this, there would be answers. He wanted to shake up the apathy. He wanted to see evidence of God's work and confirm that God will pursue a relationship with people.
If you had been there, how would you have argued? Would you have nodded your head and said, "Yes, God is silent these days," or would you have built the case for His presence, His personal relationship with us, and His acts on our behalf? Do you have evidence to share?
The people of Israel turned to idols and their own self-sufficiency because they thought God had long been silent. Instead of seeking Him and remembering what He had done, they ceased to fear Him (Isaiah 57: 10–11). Does our society act this way also?
I received more than six hundred replies to a survey I sent out asking people if they believe God speaks today, to whom He speaks and how He speaks. How do we hear Him? How do we know it's God? People from twenty-five states, six foreign countries and various religious backgrounds, age groups, and occupations responded. The specific results are catalogued in the appendix.
Ninety-six percent of the people who responded believe that God does speak today. In fact, most agreed He will speak to anyone and everyone, though people might not recognize His voice. Many indicated that they have personally heard from God at some time.
The evidence of people who believe God has interacted with them has been established in the survey results. If only a few people had responded, the reports could be considered coincidental, or skeptics could say that folks have been misinformed. However, the sheer volume of those who have heard God speak to them in a variety of ways, in several different kinds of situations, validates God's desire to communicate with us and inspires us to pay attention.
But there are skeptics out there. The resistance to the idea of God speaking is prevalent. Even in the light of the evidence, there are those, including religious people, who raise their eyebrows or guffaw when someone says that they have heard the voice of God. The following comment by an atheist who thinks Christians hearing God need professional intervention, sums up the attitude that many have. "If someone said a toaster was sending them life advice, we'd say they needed help. If they said a unicorn told them to run for president, we'd laugh them off. If we don't have the same reactions when people substitute in the Christian God, it's only because we're so used to hearing it."
Equating hearing God's voice to mental illness is not that farfetched. Joy Behar created a sensation on her TV show The View when she attacked Vice President Mike Pence's comment that he had heard God speak and that God tells him what to do. She suggested that hearing voices is mental illness. However, many of our presidents have said they have heard from God. Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Carter, Clinton, and Obama have all made that claim.
Dr. T. M. Luhrmann, a psychological anthropologist at Stanford University did a ten-year study of what she describes as "experientially oriented evangelicals," trying to determine if their claim of hearing God's voice did mean that they were mentally ill. Her results were published in her book: When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. She surmised, "When you talk to God, we call it prayer. When God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia." Dr. Luhrmann noted that schizophrenics hear continual debilitating voices that include destructive insults, sneers, and jibes. People who hear God report an empowering, quiet voice of love and peace, and feel an intimate relationship with Him. Dr. Luhrmann concluded that people who hear God speak are not mentally ill.
The ridicule surrounding people who hear from God, caused some who responded to the survey to be reluctant to share their personal experiences. They didn't want them "out there" for public scrutiny. However, Nora shared this story.
"Years ago, my husband was teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy where they have a beautiful chapel. I am Catholic. Although the Catholic Chapel downstairs is lovely, the upstairs main chapel with its blue windows is spectacular. I sat there to admire the beauty and God spoke to me. Later I told a friend, who said that was nice but not to tell others. I was offended because I knew he didn't believe that it really happened to me."
J. Wallace Warner, a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center, wrote a commentary about hearing God as a response to the vogue negativity that surfaced following Joy Behar's comments. He noted that when people say, "God spoke to me," they rarely mean that God spoke to them audibly, although God occasionally does do that. God typically speaks in a still, small voice — an impression in one's mind. He also speaks through other means such as the Bible and nature. He might use teachers, preachers, family, and friends to report His message. He might even use dreams or send angels. Later chapters in this book will examine ways God might speak to us. To hear Him, we need to expect Him to speak and then pay attention. Paying attention is the first great act of worship,where we show due reverence to God and focus on His attributes. This opens the door to communicating with Him. Yet, in our busy lives this is often neglected.
"We must admit that we forget our God, that we do not notice our Creator, that we remain distracted. That, like Augustine, we must confess, 'You were with me, but I was not with you.'"
I believe, based on biblical accounts and the evidence presented by my survey, that each of us can develop an intimate conversational relationship with God. In order to do so, we need to lay aside our inhibitions and prejudices, stop running and start looking. When we allow God into our lives and learn to recognize His voice, we will be surprised at the variety of ways He will communicate with us every day. Friends converse. The purpose of this book is to help us on our journey to friendship with God.
Look for Him. Listen to Him. Expect Him to show up. Be open to whatever means God wishes to use to talk to you. "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3: 7–8). With a ready heart and a right spirit, listen to God. "Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening." (1 Samuel 3:10 AMPC) He has things to tell you and show you.
Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders (Psalm 119:18 MSG).
Stop and Refresh
1. Read Joshua 1:1–10. What are some things God told Joshua and the people of Israel to do to prepare for their journey to the promised land? Do any of these apply today?
2. Read the introduction. What "rivers" in your life pose a threat to you?
3. Do you feel like God is silent today? Why? Do you have evidence that He isn't?
4. What is your reaction when someone tells you they have heard from God?
5. Have you had an experience where God has interacted with you? Have you told anyone? How did they react? Are you willing to share this with others now?CHAPTER 2
I'M BEING FOLLOWED
God pursues us not wanting anyone to perish.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:7)
If God is speaking, to whom does He speak? Are only Christians or the very religious privy to hearing from God, or will He talk to everyone? The majority of people who answered the survey agreed that God will talk to everyone, but they might not recognize His voice. Is this true? In addition to answering the questions, many survey responders included captivating stories about God interacting with them. Some of the most fascinating replies came from those who did not yet have a relationship with God. In retrospect, they have realized God was caring for them, protecting them and calling them in remarkable ways, even before they knew who He was. A friend told me this story.
"It was 3:00 a.m. I sat in my car in a church parking lot wishing someone would attack me or ram me with their car. I was done. I saw no reason to go on living. A few days earlier, I had tried to take my life with an overdose, but in my naïveté, the excess vitamin C and aspirin did nothing. As I looked out across the valley, I saw a huge lighted cross on the side of a hill. 'Okay, God,' I said, 'If you are real, you have two weeks to reveal yourself and show me a reason to live.'
I had grown up in an abusive home with physical and mental abuse as well as constant fighting. I avoided being home, where everything I did was ridiculed. We went to church because that was expected of upstanding citizens, but no one there talked about a personal relationship with Jesus. By high school, my self-esteem hit the bottom. I developed acne and gained weight. My lack of focus in school netted mediocre grades, so when I applied for colleges, I received rejection after rejection. This despair brought me to the parking lot.
I left, drove home and climbed in my bedroom window, telling no one what had happened. A few days later, a brother-in-law took me to lunch and suggested I apply for Boise State since he had family there. I applied and was accepted. I flew there by myself, was picked up by people I did not know, and dropped off at the dorm with my one suitcase. I was lonely and fearful, but I somehow sensed God was with me. I took long walks, talking to a God I did not know. His reality for me was confirmed when I discovered a large lighted cross on a hillside in Boise also.
When I went home for Christmas break, a friend's mom suggested I join her daughter at a community college which offered the strong language skills I was lacking. It also offered work study programs. At work, I met a girl who invited me to her church where I heard the message of a God who loves me and wants a relationship with me. I spent every moment I could at the church, attending every service, and even doing my homework in the empty sanctuary. The pastor and his wife took me under their wings and mentored me. I turned my life over to Jesus, and for the first time felt peace. Eventually, others in my family began attending the church with me. They turned their lives over to God also.
When I look back and see how God reached down to save me — literally — I am so convinced of His reality, His love, and His interaction with me. I didn't seek Him in the beginning, but He found me and took control of my life."
God does save us in miraculous ways, orchestrating circumstances and putting us just where we need to be to find Him. He brings people into our lives and speaks to us through them. He protects us from ourselves and the evil around us. My friend, Glory, shared an amazing story about how God reached down to save her from her destructive situation. He had a plan for her life.
Glory grew up in an abusive, legalistic home. Her family attended church, but all she heard was condemnation. To escape, she turned to alcohol and drugs. She was in such despair that she tried to commit suicide by taking pills, but vomited and couldn't keep them down. Determined to try again, she decided to step in front of a bus. Somehow, some way, she ended up on the opposite side of the street, sitting on the sidewalk. She has no idea how she got there. She now believes she was rescued by an angel.
To escape her devastating home life, she left at seventeen and married a man who also turned out to be abusive. Her pastor told her it was her fault because she wasn't a good wife. Her downward spiral continued. She became addicted to cocaine and dropped to eighty pounds, barely able to function. Again, she tried suicide by overdosing on cocaine, but her mom showed up in time to save her.
A few weeks later on a Friday, she attended a youth rally and heard the song "Amado Mio," translated as "My Savior." God spoke to her and said that He was the only one who could save her. Two days later, on Sunday, the pastor of her parents' church laid hands on her and prayed for her. She fell backwards and stayed on the floor for twenty minutes. When she stood up, she was a new person — cleaned and healed. Cocaine no longer had a hold on her. It wasn't immediate, but God began to orchestrate circumstances in her life that provided for her rehabilitation. She met a man who loved her unconditionally and showed her what God's love was like. She began a ministry for abused women and addicts and has a vision to open a center for the victims of domestic violence. God intervened in her life dramatically, saving her from evil and giving her a purpose and calling, even using the devastation in her life to accomplish something good. God protected Glory from her own poor choices and the evil that surrounded her. She is so amazed that in His love, He was looking out for her, even when she didn't care.
Annette also made poor choices and found herself in dangerous situations. She too is grateful that God protected her from harm and reached out to save her.
Annette recounted, "I was all dressed up to go to a job interview. My ride fell through, but I didn't want to miss my appointment, so I walked six miles in the snow, wind and cold. By the time I made it to my appointment, it turned out the position wasn't even available, so I headed back home — six miles again, in the cold, wind and snow. It was dusk and soon would be dark. When I passed by a filling station, a man putting gas in his car offered me a ride. I took it. He took a detour, suggesting we go out for drinks first. I had no way of escape. I ordered a nonalcoholic drink, but he changed my order and kept drinks coming. I made an excuse to go to the restroom, thinking I could climb out a window, but there were no windows. I pleaded with him to take me home. By now it was dark. We went outside to the parking lot where we were alone. He had a cast on his arm, and he could have hit me with it. He locked me in the car, and when I reached over to unlock my side, I saw the button had been removed. Now I started to panic. 'Surely someone will walk out and see me struggling to get out of the car,' I thought. For some unknown reason, he unlocked the car and quietly let me out. He pulled away and I was on my own to get home in the dark — no cell phone, no money, no ride. I looked up and saw a friend of mine from high school. He took me straight home. I believe God put him there. He doesn't know how he saved me that night, but God used him after I had set myself up for failure. I have many stories like that as I look back on my wild life before Jesus.
However, God pursued me. My college roommate told me about Jesus, but for six months, I resisted. Finally, in exasperation, I agreed to join her at a Christian coffee house. I heard the gospel, and the Holy Spirit audibly called my name. I responded and became a believer. The next morning, I lit a bonfire on my back porch in my barbecue grill and burned everything that I felt did not give God the glory — record albums, letters, photos, memorabilia. I even tried to burn jewelry. I wanted nothing to do with memories of my former life. Nobody told me to do this. I just cleaned house and enjoyed it. I went back to my dorm and read the Bible cover to cover all weekend, fasting and praying. It was an amazing time. I was totally transformed from the inside out."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Can You Hear God Now?"
Copyright © 2019 Susan Roberts.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter One Are You Crazy? Are people who hear God mentally ill?,
Chapter Two I'm Being Followed God pursues us not wanting anyone to perish.,
Chapter Three The Ultimate Gift God's incomparable gift of salvation by grace,
Chapter Four Road Trip Where do we go to find God?,
Chapter Five Get Going Open the doors and move out.,
Chapter Six Stop For Directions The Bible is our guidebook.,
Chapter Seven Your Traveling Companion Getting to know God by spending time with Him,
Chapter Eight In The Fog When God is silent,
Chapter Nine Road Block When God says no,
Chapter Ten Are We There Yet? Discerning the voice of God,
Chapter Eleven We've Only Just Begun God's calling,
Chapter Twelve Lost Learning to discover God's will,
Chapter Thirteen Sightseeing God has so much to show you.,
Chapter Fourteen Making Memories Remembering and pondering the awesome deeds of the Lord,
Appendix Survey Results 605 Responses,
About The Author,