Joyce Meyer,
How to Hear from God
(Time Warner, 2003)

How to Hear from God: Learn to Hear His Voice & Make Right Decisions is a package of four audio cassettes written and read by Joyce Meyer. More than five hours of recording are divided into shorter portions that are really an interesting listen.

I was intrigued by Meyer's brusque voice. It's not cultured or refined, but it brings home to us how God is present in the real, solid and everyday things of life and, ephemeral though he is, she assures us you can find him and hear him almost anywhere if you want to learn to listen.

The insights Meyer offer on this set are really outstanding. I would say she is sincere in her ministry and tries to be objective and truthful about herself as well as what she sees around her. There were a couple of aspects of her talk that I thought were misses -- although there were many blessed thoughts here, there were two or three I felt like pin-pricks.

One was the lack of recognition of the long tradition of organized religion that exists. Except for quotes from the Bible, she speaks in the present. A tradition exists that is a strong tool to help people find their way and the previous writings of many holy and spiritual people. Just like the historical writings of medicine, it ensures we don't have to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Indeed, other inspired people have written about the same things of which she speaks and, though her presentation is new -- it is novel, strong and forthright -- her insights and thoughts are not. Those thoughts and insights that come from God, from listening to God, have been coming from the beginning of time, and it is a strength of organized religion that it maintains and respects and passes that tradition on to others.

What Meyer has done successfully is to organize many of those thoughts in a way that is relevant and understandable for many people. She is not afraid to relate her own weaknesses and humbling experiences, and her anecdotes enable you to respond when your heart recognizes something that is in you, something that resembles your own failings.

The second pin-prick was how her journey of listening appears to be an individualistic endeavor that occurs within her immediate environment and personal contact with God. That actually sounds like a plus, except she disses out-of-hand many church rules and regulations, when really they are a helpful tool for many searching for a path to divinity. True, they can be a hindrance if a pastor thinks the rules themselves divine.

Her ideas for hearing God's voice are great, very useful and practical exercises. And therein lays the strength of these tapes. Her supporting material appears at times very logical and at others to be more a result of her personal revelation and opinions. Though she offers quotes from the Bible, some of her logic implies that she hasn't an extensive religious education and incorporates superficial ideas from many religious positions. To me, her words are recognizable as coming from a layperson's point of view and not from a formal theological background. And for some, that makes religion more approachable, more understandable within the structure of their everyday lives.

She systematically focuses and expands in a practical, confident and useful manner on her subject of how to hear God's voice. On that, her ideas are real and useful. And she's like that practical, no-nonsense acquaintance who sits down to tea with you and then tells you some good ideas for getting your messy house in order. Just like you would with that person, you can take the advice that suits your situation and let the rest go.

You can easily use the tape to get ideas on allowing God's voice into your life. Just be aware that Meyer is human and that some foibles appear on the tape. Most obvious is when she seems to state that someone is no longer a sinner. That's rather difficult to accept. And she sounds fairly judgmental about sinners at one point.

Nevertheless, she speaks with clarity and conviction about listening for and acting on God's voice. She reminds us not to expect to hear God's voice once and think that's it, I've heard my Word, my life is all set. No, it takes constant awareness and constant questioning to continue to live with God's voice guiding you. Meyer encourages, cajoles and commands. She is a remarkable woman and God has given her much to offer.

Whether you are struggling to understand how to hear God's voice and you need confirmation about the reality of his messages, or if you want to be inspired about how to learn and recognize God's voice all around you, these tapes will help you focus and let you quickly realize that it is you muffling God's voice. He speaks loudly and clearly.

Meyer's style allows the tapes to be listened to over and over without monotony setting in. But you must listen with discernment and use the parts that are right for you. If you have lost your way but feel God might have something to say to you, this tape will remind you to ask God in a thankful way for his messages, to take time to listen for the response and then pray about your responses.

If you need more than that, if you need some coaching and encouragement, then you'll probably be satisfied with this recording.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 24 July 2004

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