Sanford anthropologist, Tanya Luhrmann, author of When God Talks Back, explained in a recent Christianity Today article “Why Women Hear from God more than Men Do.”

Why?

First, women pray more.  According to the 2008 Pew and Religious Landscape surgery 2/3 of women pray daily compared to less than 1/2 of men.

Combing frequency this frequency with one major skill: women are more comfortable using their imaginations.  Imagination is a vital soul muscle for connecting with any immaterial substance be it Harry Potter, your desire for a long-term marriage, your love of good ideas, the number seven (you cannot touch the number seven, only it’s symbol in perhaps a sponge letter in your son’s bathtub set) and, of course, God.

I can already hear the atheist’s response. So women are better at making things up and pretending their real? Great, just great.

At patheos blog “Love, Joy, Feminism” atheist Libby Anne writes about “The Psychology of God” and suggests that “hearing from God” is something Christians train themselves to do. And since you can also train yourself to hear a unicorn speak to you, why would this be evidence for God?

 

Wishful thinking, enough scripture, enough imagination and you will “hear” from God, too. Would you like some Kool-aid with that?

Interestingly enough, Libby Anne’s post was based on Tanya Luhrmann’s research, the same author of the Christianity Today post quoted above.

Same data, differential conclusions. Time to go to the source.

At Stanford’s University site, Luhrmann’s works is featured in an article titled, “How Does God Become Real to People?” where I found “Luhrmann said her research does not intend to prove or disprove the existence of God.”

Luhrmann believes listening to Scripture and training your spirit to detect God’s voice is a form of cultivation. It reminds me of the cultivated skill of listening for my husband’s quieter voice in a large group.

The training doesn’t prove I’m making him up. It does mean, however, that not everyone can hear his voice.

Since ninety-five percent of Americans believe in God, I want to leave the argument that hearing from God is make-believe (since it’s a minority view–ask me more in comments if you’re interested) and turn to the issue of experiencing God.

In Rachel Held Evan’s interview with Ask a Pagan, I found Jason Mankey‘s response indicative of many Americans.

As a spiritual person, I’m looking to connect with deity.  I very rarely felt connected to deity sitting in a pew listening to someone talk about God. I wanted to experience God.  I practice Wicca (one of several Modern Paganisms), and Wicca’s ritual framework allows me to have that experience with deity that I often felt was missing as a Christian.  There’s not a series of complicated rules separating me from the divine; it’s right there waiting for me anytime I want to experience it.  I felt complete and whole the first time I prayed to The Goddess.  

I can see how The Goddess felt more intimate (more in Ruby Slippers’ chapter “Finding the Feminine in the Sacred”).

I can also understand how connection with God is vital to a spiritual life.

Luhrmann explains, “I actually think there’s good evidence that having this kind of intimate relationship with God is good for you.”

I’m inclined to agree.

God talked with his people throughout Scripture (Gen. 12:1-3, Gen. 16:8, Act 9:10-16), I believe he can do the same even now.

How to Have Conversations With God

I haven’t always conversed with God. I used to just give God my laundry list.

Heal, help, save, restore, and I praise you for x,y,z. Amen.

A few years ago I began taking walks, Frank Laubach style, with God.

Laubach, a missionary to the Philippines learned to practice talking to God and then using his own voice to repeat what he thought God was saying in response. He explains,

I have just returned from a walk alone, a walk so wonderful that I feel like reducing it to a universal rule, that all people ought to take a walk every evening all alone where they can talk aloud without being heard by anyone, and that during this entire walk they all ought to talk with God, allowing Him to use their tongue to talk back–and letting God do most of the talking (Letters by a Modern Mystic, 41).

Laubach let God do the talking with his tongue.  Does it sound freaky?

It’s not possession.

It’s not losing consciousness.

It’s simply trying to hear God as best we can.

You listen by talking.

The things you might hear are not prophecy on par with the inspired Word of God, rather what you get is an experience of

  1. asking God into your life, to contact you where you are and
  2. hearing something tangible to analyze and compare with Scripture.

But isn’t this mysticism and sort of weird? you might ask.

Yes, it is weird, I’ll admit, if by weird you mean uncommon.

And yes, it is mysticism if you mean . . .

read the rest at Positively Human where I blog with other Soulation writers on apologetics and spiritual formation.

p.s. It’s worth clicking over, if just for the comments.