The Power of a Whisper – A Book Review

Bill Hybels’ The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond is a joy to read. Bill weaves the tapestry of his personal life and ministry leadership – punctuated by defining moments of sensing God’s still small voice, which Hybels describes as God’s whisper.

I must confess I was hesitant to read this book. Perhaps my confession should be of negligence rather than hesitance. I purchased the audiobook in 2017 and listened to it 6 years later. When purchased, I was diving deeper into the topic of hearing God’s voice after reading Robert Morris’s Frequency: Tune In. Hear God, and John Eldredge’s Walking with God: Talk to Him, Hear from Him, Really, I had purchased Dallas Willard’s Hearing God and Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God and along with Hybels, The Power of a Whisper. I listened to all of them except Hybels’. I had a negative bias against some aspects of Hybels’ brand of seeker sensitive church. I think God used this book to humble that bias out of me as well as to gain respect for Hybels and grow deeper in my prayer life, hearing God.

The book steers far clear of dealing with the theological debates on various points of how God might communicate to us. Rather, the beauty of Hybels’ book is the ease of his life stories – from business decisions, to relationships, to parenting, leading, and ministry decisions – each chapter uses Bill’s real-life experience of listening to God in a way that is useful for the follower of Christ reading the book. The book concludes with practical appendices and the content is available for video based small group study.

While I found something (and sometimes many things) in every chapter, that was nourishing to my prayer life, chapter 6 – Light for the Dark Night of the Soul – spoke deeply to me. Hybels shares his discovery that Mother Teresa (Roman Catholic nun, missionary to Calcutta) had long period of dryness from experiencing the presence of voice of the Spirit of God.  Hybels wrote, “I learned that throughout the course of her unparalleled ministry, Mother Teresa suffered spiritual dry spells, times when she didn’t detect the love or companionship of God. Despite the fact hat she knew God was there, she didn’t feel him in a visceral sense. Month after month, and in some stretches year after year, Mother Teresa became increasingly despondent because of God’s silence; she desperately needed to hear a whisper from him, but she would continue to wait in vain. In spite of his silence, Mother Teresa remained devoted. ‘Even though I don’t feel his presence,’ she wrote, “I will seek to love him as he has never been loved.’” Hybels continued, “When I came across that quote, it took my breath away.”

…..and when I listened to that read to me… it also took my breath away. It made sense out of the dry spells I have lived. It made many not-alright periods alright.

As controversy has tainted the impact of Larry Lea’s Could You Not Tarry One Hour, and The Hearing Ear, Hybels retired early from Willow Creek in a resignation spurred by controversy in 2018 which might give some of us cause to pause and reconsider the book’s credibility. I didn’t see it that way. This book is rock solid and I am desirous to read more that Hybels has written.

The audiobook version of Hybels’ The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond is a joy to listen to. I have since purchased the hardcover and made this book a staple of my library, teaching, and a book I will recommend to many.

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The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond, by Bill Hybels, Zondervan, 2010, $14.93.

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Tim Morris is the Director of Ecclesiolae Ministries Foundation, cofounded with Julie Morris. Ecclesiolae seeks to support Christians in their Spiritual Formation, Strengthening Ministry Marriages, and expanding the growth of MicroChurches within MegaChurches. Tim earned a BS in Business Management and completes an MA in Theology, from Wesley Biblical Seminary in the Spring of 2024.

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