Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Forget about Tanya. Here is a resource for you to teach your people about finding God’s will…

Written by: on February 15, 2019

I imagine the Apostle Paul hearing about this study…


Tanya: “Let’s label and quantify anthropologically and psychologically effects that people experience and call “real” when they pray.”

The Apostle Paul: stares blankly…. “Ok, well I’m going to go tell those people over there about the real Jesus. Bye now.”


Tanya Luhrmann writes in When God Talks Back about the evangelical “phenomenon” of Christians who claim to experience God. It’s painful to hear her (As she talks in this TED talks, it makes evangelicals sound crazy)[1], and read her descriptions about what experiencing God might be like.

Her work shows many things, one being that people respond to training. (I feel like she lightly infers brainwash here). The more they focus on it, the more they will actually begin to experience it. When she studied effects on prayer, students who had focused on prayer reported more spiritual experiences. GO FIGURE! She says you experience and learn these things slowly, and you slowly begin to notice God in more things. Also, Tanya says, “if you’re using your imagination, you must be doing it wrong.” But she says that the medieval monks would actually use more of their senses and believed that to be part of how God was talking as well. Luhrmann explains the science of how God chooses to work, and in a way explains it like you could still do it without God. But where she gets really off, and show her secularism, is where she begins to attribute prayer as being real, but only real the biochemically way, explaining how the physical effects actually change us.

This is that part of the basis of Dan Brown’s fictional book The Lost Symbol in which prayer is real but only because of a subversive psychic and telekinetic power that all humans have as part of their own will-power.[2] Therefore in Dan Brown’s book, if enough people think (aka pray) about the same thing and outcome, it can actually be willed into existence by this “force”. Luhrmann doesn’t go into the psychic, but explain that all of the changes that happen are simply biochemically internal changes from our own practices. Huge problems here! Blasphemy aside… Who’s to say that’s not how God just chooses to work, and we are simply witnessing God doing it, and seeing it physically happen. Does that make sense?


Ok enough.


Let me bring up a point I saw on Jay’s post, pointing out the author’s other work about Wiccan  etc. There were some disturbing videos about her worldview… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ubyjVrzdUc




I wanted to dive into this more, but I’d rather do literally anything else. So bye bye Tanya.


Let me just finish this blog by actually bringing something of value to our group this week… Here are some of my thoughts about discerning God’s voice, and maybe you will be able to use it as you teach others. Enjoy.


When it comes to “when God talks back”, it is a crucial “skill” that all Christians must grow in in their Christian walk. As a youth pastor the question I was asked more than any other, is how do I know when God is talking to me? Today, working with college students, grads, and new pastors the question is just as frequent. Below is a resource I’ve developed that has helped me in my own processing of trying to figure what is God speaking to me. Even though I have taught this many time now, I still find myself running into a rut not knowing what I am “supposed” to do. In these moments I will feel the frustration that comes with ambiguity, and I remember to sit down and go through some of the questions represented below. That’s because, the problem is discernment. The problem is always discernment. I think that this issue of being able to discern what God’s voice is and what is your own thoughts.


For those reading this blog, you will probably be able to surmise the whole message of this grid, just by the visual. But to explain it briefly. I think there are four different filters that one should process their major life decisions through. God, Wisdom, Kingdom and Self. There is much to be said about each of these, but below are simply 13 questions that can you help process through what God is speaking to you. Each of these questions are intended to be deep soul-searching questions, not just quick yes or no answers.


Simply write down three decisions you have to make soon, and take those 3 dilemmas you have, through this grid…




Why are we talking about doing this? Let’s just do it.  I’m ending my blog and going to prayer now.


Psalm 34:8

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”





[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DloTO-SwFZA

[2] https://lynnemctaggart.com/the-key-to-the-lost-symbol-the-power-of-intention/

About the Author

Kyle Chalko

8 responses to “Forget about Tanya. Here is a resource for you to teach your people about finding God’s will…”

  1. Dan Kreiss says:


    Thanks for your post and your guide to helping discern God’s voice. I will use that with my own students.

    My concern with dismissing Luhrmann completely is that I believe she has some valuable things to tell us about our own experiences. It is difficult at times to view ourselves objectively, especially when it comes to things as personal as faith. While clearly she is not completely unbiased she does offer us insight into how ‘outsiders’ perceive faith experience and practice. I believe that is valuable and should help to guide our discussions with those who do not understand why we do what we do. Peter affirms our need to be prepared; “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) I think that includes understanding how our faith and practices are perceived by both ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. What do you think?

  2. M Webb says:

    I loved your semi-sarcastic introduction and situational play on Luhrmann’s “prayer” and the Apostle Paul’s marketplace ministry. Thanks for critiquing her secular view of prayer and her attempt to scientifically explain how it works.
    I like your grid on how to find God’s will. It is like several others I know about. I connect with Chuck Swindoll’s 4-step process and have used it successfully many times on major life events. Here is the short version:
    • God leads through His Word
    • God leads through the Holy Spirit promptings
    • God leads through wise counsel of others
    • God leads through an overwhelming sense of peace
    I like this model because it puts the emphasis on God leading instead of me leading.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  3. Jay Forseth says:


    You are the man! I am very impressed with your writings. Well done, Brother.

    I found this further disturbing about Luhrmann:

    “In 1986 she received her PhD for work on modern-day witches in England, later published as Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft (1989). In this book, she described the ways in which magic and other esoteric techniques both serve emotional needs and come to seem reasonable through the experience of practice.”

    Mary Jo Neitz “Review: Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England.” The American Journal of Sociology 96:2 (September 1990) JSTOR 2781128

  4. Chris Pritchett says:

    I agree with your take on the book. She comes across as disingenuous to me. Nevertheless, I’m curious your perspective on something since you visit lots of churches. Do you think it’s helpful for Christians to experience worship and prayer from traditions other than what is familiar? For example, for low church folks to experience high church traditions (including contemplative prayer) and vice versa? What do we gain and/or lose from doing this work as Christian leaders?

  5. Jason Turbeville says:

    I want to say this is probably one of the best discussions I’ve read in a while about discerning God’s will. Your tool you developed is a good one and fyi I am going to steal it. Thanks for your commentary.


  6. Hey Kyle,

    My take on the book was more akin to Dan’s comment above where I think it’s interesting to have an outsider’s perspective on how we behave and interact within the church. Having these observations then allows us an opportunity to assess whether they are core to faith or merely a cultural veneer.

    One example I’ll give from the book is how people commonly pray in Vineyard (and other neocharismatic settings) – gathered around the prayee, connecting by touch, with distant people extending their arms/hands toward the prayee. My view is that this is just a cultural expression at play. So when I’m in a Vineyard setting, I am comfortable to pray in that way, but in my more liturgical settings, I pray differently. Neither is better, as they are just two different expressions. God is bigger than those surface-y things.

    But Jay’s comment and your videos do creep me out a bit, to be honest!! 🙂

  7. Greg says:

    I think discernment is always the issue…what is my voice and what is God’s? Are questions I received in the states and even in Asia. As a Naz. (Follower of J. Wesley) I go to the quadrilateral
    (Scripture, Tradition, Reason Experience ). Your chart looks like a modern version of that.

    The value I see in the book we read is the understanding of what those outside are talking about and how they are perceiving this idea of hearing God and discernment. I would not like to use this book to study her techniques and give value to her outcomes other than to say that she makes me wonder who else is having similar thoughts and how do I engage those people in true and honest discussions. (I am really not giving you a hard time…I didn’t like this book either)

  8. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks for your honest post, Kyle. I liked hearing the way that you actively thought and talked through something that you clearly did not resonate with! Bye Felicia…

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