Ben Witherington has posted a personal encounter on Hearing the Voice of God, and is looking for others who have also had an experience of hearing the audible voice of God. Being post-charismatic myself, I have met a number of prophetic-type people, and a few people who have heard the voice. By my observation, they aren’t always the ones you expect, and the audible voice is in the sharp minority of ways that God speaks to his people.
Throughout the history of God’s people and even unto today people have been hearing God’s voice. What characterizes most, if not all these direct communications… is that they are brief and direct, and often they involve the direct calling by name of the human being involved.
I recall my college days when people all around me were searching for their “calling.” It was common enough for people to imagine a difficult thing, something that they wouldn’t want to do, and to say something along the lines of, “Well, without a burning bush, I’d have to hear that audibly.” I probably said that myself, but later on I came to understand that even an experience of the audible voice of God can be “written off” or misunderstood, such that I suspect more people have heard the voice than would acknowledge it. Recall John 12, Jesus speaking:
â€œNow my soul is greatly distressed. And what should I say? â€˜Father, deliver me from this hourâ€™? No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.â€? Then a voice came from heaven, â€œI have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.â€? The crowd that stood there and heard the voice said that it had thundered. Others said that an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, â€œThis voice has not come for my benefit but for yours.
It’s a little odd to realize that a voice had come for the benefit of people who didn’t recognize that it actually was a voice… part of the mystery perhaps, “for those who have ears to hear.” In any event, it showed me that even the audible voice is not always so clear as we might imagine, and that it takes faith even to believe the things we might have thought would be obvious.
In my charismatic days, I was involved in the prophetic ministry in our church, and have travelled, taught, written, and prophesied in this field. I don’t do much (if any) of this anymore, but of all the things I believe I’ve “heard” God say to me, when I consider the audible voice, a single experience stands out for me. Several years ago, I was reading my Bible very early one morning, sitting at my desk. I heard my name called audibly, a clear voice coming from my left side. I looked in that direction, despite the fact that less than two feet away on that side was the wall of our apartment, where I was alone. That’s all it was, just my name called, but I knew who had called it, and instinctively understood the depth of meaning in having him call my name… that much alone communicates love, acceptance, purpose, and meaning. And it is more than enough.