God's Presence and Hearing God Q&A

March 18, 2011
Renovaré Institute - Denver Cohort - Session Two

A cohort of the Renovare Institute meeting in Denver (Camp St. Malo, CO) concluded its week with two Q&A sessions with Dallas Willard on God's presence and Hearing God. The first was led by John Ortberg while the second was hosted by Richard Foster.


1: Q&A with John Ortberg and Dallas: Hearing God in the Context of the Kingdom of God

This question-and-answer time with Dallas and John Ortberg covers a lot of ground including: sleep and how to deal with difficulty sleeping, the Kingdom of God and its present availability, our crucifixion with Jesus, a very touching time listening to God through Psalm 121, disciplines as part of a curriculum for Christlikeness, and how this universe is a perfectly safe place to be.

2: Dallas Willard - Q&A with Richard Foster & Dallas: Hearing God as a Life

Dallas and Richard Foster enjoy a rich time of discussion, which starts with a reflection on God's presence with his people from Genesis to Revelation, a very helpful look at the unity of the Bible and how God has been working throughout human history. They then discuss the two types of life we have, physical and spiritual, and the importance of understanding that different kind of life that is available. We get to be people living now, an eternal kind of life, wherever we are, because we’re really living from the Kingdom of God! Finally, they conclude by discussing Jesus's statement that we will never experience death, and Paul's affirmation of the same. 

Q&A with John Ortberg and Dallas: Hearing God in the Context of the Kingdom of God


  • Role of Sleep in Spiritual Life: Dallas views sleep as deeply connected to one’s spiritual state, emphasizing the need to address soul disturbances for peaceful rest. He suggests that managing these issues through prayer and reflection is key to improving both sleep and spiritual well-being.
  • Seeking the Kingdom of God: The discussion highlights the importance of seeking God's presence in all aspects of life, rather than just through religious activities. This involves a deeper engagement with the world as God's creation, recognizing His actions and goodness in everyday experiences.
  • Necessity of Crucifixion for Liberation: Dallas introduces the concept of embracing one's own crucifixion as a pathway to liberation, allowing individuals to detach from their egos and align with God’s will. This perspective challenges traditional views of suffering, framing it as an opportunity for spiritual growth and freedom.
  • Hearing God as a Whole Life Experience: Hearing God is presented not merely as a spiritual discipline, but as an integral part of living a life aligned with God’s will. This approach calls for continuous communication with God, shaping one’s actions and decisions in accordance with divine guidance.
  • Spiritual Disciplines as Remedies: Spiritual disciplines are likened to remedies for specific spiritual ailments, not ends in themselves. Dallas stresses that the ultimate aim is to cultivate a deeper relationship with Jesus and integrate the principles of God’s kingdom into daily life, beyond the practice of disciplines.

Dallas Willard - Q&A with Richard Foster & Dallas: Hearing God as a Life


  • Aim of God in History: Richard Foster recalls a profound statement from Dallas Willard made 40 years ago, stating that the aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with God Himself at the very center as its prime Sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.
  • With-God Life: Dallas introduces the concept of "the with-God life" as the unity of the Bible, emphasizing that from Genesis to Revelation, the narrative showcases God placing humans in positions of responsibility, suggesting a direct involvement of God in the human story, emphasizing stewardship and the overarching presence of God throughout human history.
  • Abraham - Friend of God: The transition from individual to family to nation marks a pivotal moment in holy history. Abraham being called the friend of God symbolizes a new depth in the relationship between humanity and the divine, establishing a pattern of familial and communal relations with God.
  • Presence of God and the Spiritual Journey: Dallas discusses the continual presence of God despite human disobedience, highlighting significant biblical moments where God's involvement is evident, like His conversations with Cain and Abraham, and His directive presence throughout Israel's history, from the Exodus to the building of the nation.
  • The Incarnation and the Church: Jesus embodies the "with-God life," marking the fullness of God's plan to dwell among His people. This leads to the formation of the Church, a community of believers living out the reality of God's kingdom on earth, demonstrating the power of the resurrection and the eternal life available through Christ.