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Desiring God's Will: Aligning Our Hearts with the Heart of God
Inter-varsity Press / 2005 / Paperback
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How might we discipline our wills so that we become both willing and able to do what God asks of us? In this book psychologist and spiritual director David Benner explores the transformation of the will in Christian spirituality. He examines why our desires are disordered and how our human volition can be brought into alignment with God's intentions so that we willingly choose that which god wants for us. in so doing, Benner shows us that cultivating discernment and being attuned to God's desires is the path of true life, spiritual health and freedom. God wants to change our choosing, not just our choices. By aligning our hearts with God's, we will find liberation from the kingdom of self and instead experience the joy of the kingdom of God.
We overhear Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane--"not my will, but thine be done"--but have trouble honestly making it our own. (from the Introduction) Most people think of God's will as something to be found or as the receiving of guidance from God when making decisions. We assume that if we just knew what God wanted, we'd do it. Too often, however, the problem is not that we don't know what God desires for our lives, but rather that we just don't want to do what we already know he wants. Sometimes, though, we try to live the Christian life out of sheer self-determination and grit, only to discover that our will is not sufficient to sustain us. How might our wills be changed so that we become both willing and able to do what God asks of us? In Desiring God's Will psychologist and spiritual director David G. Benner explores the transformation of the will in Christian spirituality. He examines why our desires are disordered and how our human volition can be brought into alignment with God's intentions so that we willingly choose that which God wants for us. In so doing, Benner shows us that cultivating discernment and being attuned to God's desires is the path to true life, spiritual health and freedom. God wants to change our choosing, not just our choices. By aligning our hearts with God's, we will find liberation from the kingdom of self and instead experience the joy of the kingdom of God.
David G. Benner (Ph.D., York University) is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Spirituality at Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta, Georgia. Previously he was an associate fellow at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. A depth psychologist, spiritual director and retreat leader, Benner has written and edited many books, including the and He is the founding executive editor of the journal Green is the author of and several other books on Christian spirituality.
Discovering God's will is much more than simply making right choices regarding such events as marriage or career. According to psychologist and spiritual director Benner, surrendering to God's will is choosing God over self in all areas of life. It is willingness instead of willfulness. In this short book, veteran spirituality writer Benner takes a close look at willfulness in the forms of discipline and rigidity, then contrasts those with the freedom that comes with knowing God's love. That love, he says, is the basis for our surrender to God. With that surrender comes desire, and with that desire a willingness to make God, not self, the center of life. Benner admits to his struggles with willfulness, including God's plan for him to write this book instead of the one Benner planned, but he also describes the spiritual transformation he desires and sometimes fully achieves. He quotes often from the spiritual leaders of the past, a refreshing change from some modern authors who reduce God's will to "sin avoidance." His discussion of consolation, the name given by St. Ignatius for the feeling that we are aligned with God, and desolation, the feeling of being far from God, is an interesting and valuable addition to the book. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"David G. Benner has done it again! Desiring God's Will is the perfect capstone for one of the finest trilogies of Christian spiritual formation that has ever been written. I recommend it for any serious seeker who desires for his or her heart to resonate in perfect pitch with the heart of God."
"According to psychologist and spiritual director Benner, surrendering to God's will is choosing God over self in all areas of life."
"Can it really be that the things I most deeply want point me toward God? Can it be that these same things tell me something about what God deeply wants for me? With hope and clarity, David Benner demonstrates that the answers to these questions are a resounding yes. Psychologically sound and spiritually compelling, this book moves us beyond our fear and suspicion that somehow God's desires for us and ours for ourselves are mutually exclusive, to a path for discerning God's will that is deeply satisfying because it is congruent with our authentic self in God."
"David Benner releases us from the burden of having to figure out God's will, which too often becomes an obsession to us. Instead, he invites us to embrace the will of God as we know it for today. Along the way he provides enormously helpful categories: we should be willing but not willful; we should explore our true desires, not dismiss all desire as bad; we should realize that God's will has less to do with a particular decision and more to do with the most important decision we will ever make--to pursue God. I found this short book helpful and insightful. It was obvious that Benner did not write this book on a whim. The material has been simmering in his soul for some time."
" Desiring God's Will is a fresh alternative to today's common spiritual writing. David Benner has written a penetrating book, faithful to ancient truth, that goes beyond the facile 'how to' and seeks to confront the heart of our rebellion, independence and pride. This is a welcome gift to those who want to move past easy answers as they surrender to a truly authentic faith and walk with God."
"David Benner has a unique perspective in assisting the contemporary pray-er to achieve that true openness which is essential for genuine discernment. . . . Desiring God's Will achieves a happy balance of tradition and contemporary relevance."
"Benner has provided a masterful understanding of God's will that rightly places the emphasis upon a loving, responsive relationship with God rather than the correct performance of a structure of 'duties.' This is one of very few books on Christian spirituality that I couldn't wait to get back to when I had to break off reluctantly for other duties."
"This is really a wonderful book, a powerful book, a life-giving book--Benner speaks so honestly, openly and directly to our lust for the self-determination and control that keeps us from knowing the joy and freedom of a God-centered life, a life of willingness in response to God's constant personal love. Reading this book I came to know more fully than ever before how much God desires me."
"In Desiring God's Will, the third in his trilogy, David Benner writes in a deeply personal way of the corrective activist Christians need, not so much to seek guidance as to deeply desire God's will. No more important message could be given us in our narcissistic culture. Poignantly written, this is a life-changing book."
"David Benner never disappoints. He is intelligent without being academic, psychologically astute without being trendy, spiritually profound without being pious. He clearly knows the landscape from which he dares to speak."
"This is for people who want God. Even more, it is for people who want to want God. It is about not the taming of the will but its transformation."
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