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.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts in your blog, I really enjoy reading it. I never heard God’s voice myself in such a clear way but with time and prayers, it is also possible to believe in Him.
Thank you for sharing!
I don’t understand the designation “post charismatic”, though. What do you mean by that?
God began time and space with His voice, and I believe He continues to speak today, all the time. The problem is not with God; it is with us. We let our doubt thwart our ability to hear. The distractions of the material world drown out His voice. Our lack of faith that God really has a message for us deafens us. I am beginning to define “success” in my personal discipleship as those times when I hear His voice in the little things of life.
An example came today, when just before I was introduced to speak at a church the pastor led everyone in prayer. As he prayed He spoke of Jonah, whom God pointed me to when He called me to move from the practice of law to missions, and I heard God adding to the message I was about to deliver. After I closed my discussion, the pastor then shared how He heard God lay Jonah on his heart while he prayed. We both were sensitive to His Spirit, His voice, in that.
Another example came this past week when my son was not coming even though I called to him. As I watched him spin down the hall and say “I’m coming,” but he was not in fact coming, God gently reminded me of how often I do that to Him when He calls to me. God didn’t say it so that my worldly ear could hear; He said it so that my spritual ear could hear, my soul, my heart.
I do believe we can hear Him audibly, but I think we need to be offering ourselves as living sacrifices in such a way that we are hearing His voice in all of life.
First time here. Great looking blog. Followed John Smulo’s links.
Zebra, thanks. I agree we can hear God, certainly; prayer and receptivity help, but we have to be cautious we don’t start thinking we can earn it this way… it’s always a gift, like faith (as you suggest) and one he seems to give indescriminately. Luckily for us ;^)
P-Astor, post-charismatic is a recurring theme around here and at a couple of other blogs… you can browse my posts in that category for a bit more on it. Basically it’s the idea of moving past the hype and abuse in the charismatic movement, but not moving past the Holy Spirit.
Bryan, good examples of the “common” ways that God speaks to us, the ones we need to be cautious about not overlooking. I’m with you on that one! Welcome to the blog, thanks for your comments… will have to remember to thank JSmu for the link ;^)
Thank you for the clarification. I have read the articles and posts and understand now. I’m torn though. What you describe is very much the place and process I am in, but it feels strange to let the word “chaismatic” be descriptive of abusive charismatism. I think charismatic communicates “counting on the presence, power and activity of the Holy Spirit in the here and now”, while the abuse and hype version could be designated “bad charismatism”, “TV-evangelist charismatism”, “authoritarian-” or even “secteristic charismatism”.
There are an awful lot of “post-‘s” being thrown around these days, and the one thing that troubles me about them is this. They are good for the person using them and those who are in a similar place as the writer who uses the term; however, for someone who is new to the term being modified by “post-” it may not be a good thing. Wow, I read that and it makes about as much sense as if I had just written gobbledygook. What I am trying to say is it could be a stronger brother/weaker brother thing that we need to be careful of. Let’s say I’m a new Christian and I don’t know much about anything, but I’m real excited about my new faith and what God is doing in my life. My charismatic friends, who helped me along my way and who may be composed of a few “bad” charismatics and some “good” charismatics, seem really cool to me. Then, I come along your site and see that someone “was” charismatic but is now “beyond” it. What am I to think? Suddenly, in my infancy state I am challenged to wonder if what I’ve just become is so great after all. Although the word post is really good for someone who has matured and understands they must move past the human-based aspects of charisma into a richer Holy Spirit experience (really just in faith putting our lives into God’s hands rather than our own), a newbie might not be ready for that.
Having said all that and still wondering if it makes any sense, I will say that I appreciate the use of post as a descriptor, but think we must be careful not to make it a basis for judgment and be sensitive to potential readers.
God spoke to me when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter. I was undergoing genetic testing because of some medication I take. He told me audibly that “the child will be a gift and I will help you to care for it’s needs” … that was all. Our daughter is completely healthy with no problems. But that was not the reassurance I got. I was reassured that God would help us to care for the child and s/he was His gift to us. It was one of the most amazing moments in my faith journey.
BTW … I come out of the evangelical tradition so when I reported this moment, everyone just sort of looked at me and mentally took a step back. This is viewed with a healthy suspicion (to put it mildly) in the evangelical world.
When I was 12 God touched me. No words, just a physical sensation- to a child who had never heard of such things. I only rarely was taken to church- and then only when I asked to be. (Later I told of my experience at a VBS I was visiting and was chastised for it.) About ten years ago a demon spoke to me audibly. I wish it had been God instead.
I’ve never heard a voice with my physical ears, but I have come to learn that we have a spiritual and internal set that match the outward ones. The actual sensation isn’t much different, and it isn’t much different than the outward sensation when God is intentionally talking. It has happened to me perhaps a half dozen times in the last ten years, and each time it was a specific message. The puzzling part is that the “specific” message still requires interpretation.
Of the half dozen times I have heard with my inner ears (more or less Spirit to spirit communication I suppose) twice the message was personal and in that sense was clearly “the voice of love” (Eliot).. the other times the message was about what God was doing more broadly in His kingdom, with an implicit invitation to join in that work.
I’d like to hear more from the Lord in this way… it’s a touching experience. But I think the Lord graciously limits these special experiences for most of us, lest we rely on them or come to think we have a special connection to God.
Theologically this is all pretty simple: “My sheep hear My voice” and “I will send another Counselor” just about sums it up.
Ever read “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” [Julian Jaynes] – one the strangest treatments of ‘theophanies’ I know, but it was kinda cool all the same. . .
I don’t think I’ve ever ‘heard’ God’s voice per se, but I am pretty certain i have heard God’s laughter, and more than once. . . But hearing happens in many ways. After about 8 years working in the Deaf community I realized that I was able to think in ASL [American Sign Language] – sometimes hearing isn’t at all auditory, but it’s still distinct and real . . . ‘hearing’ is in the end probably just a metaphor for whateveritis we are doing when we receive God’s communicatiques.
“Man does not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The times I’ve actually heard the audible voice of God was when I was fasting, not voluntarily but out of despair. My marriage was in trouble and I had gone through enough to know that it was the enemy breaking us apart. During this time not having eaten hardly anything for at least a few days I heard a small still voice “Ask the Father to Annoint your Marriage”. I was amazed. I had never experienced that before or had not realized what it was. So I began praying for God to annoint our marriage. He did, and on several occasions even sent a peace that I cannot explain except to say “the peace that surpassas all understanding”. GOD is wonderful! All Glory and praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It has only been during fasting that I have heard the audible voice, but it is yet another Testimony of our Heavenly Fathers Love. It is important to understand that during such times you may indeed have interference from enemy, this is when you must pray for discernment and confirmation. “He who is within us is more powerful than he who is within the World”. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
For about five years now, my husband, our teenage daughter and myself have been hearing God’s voice and have actually fashioned our lives around it. We make no major decisions of any kind without consulting God. I have written the whole story down for you to read. I want absolutely nothing from anyone. I only want you to know that, not only is this possible, but God has even left a set of instructions for us to follow. An ancient path that will lead us back to Him. Peace to you.
I heard a voice that was in a different language, and was deep and loud..it popped my ears. I became scared and prayed for god to make all evil go away from me forever..Then the holy spirit came and gave me a sense of peace. What was that? a good or evil voice?
In my experience an actual audible voice is rare but I have heard it too. For more info check out http://www.godandemail.com which contains more real life examples of how God speaks to us (these are people today that have actually experienced this voice and what it meant to them).
In response to Angie. Gods voice in scripture is described as a (Small Still Voice). You may have experienced some sort of Spiritual Attack, and when you asked for help from God he sent his peace. If anything you hear from a spiritual voice is not in line with Scripture it is not from God.
You should ask this question to God in Prayer. He is Faithful and will respond.
Late one afternoon I was praying for the soul of a friend who had been backsliding and getting himself involved with worldly thoughts and actions.
With great concern in my heart for my brother and his spiritual safety, I went to prayer and prayed fervently.
My heart was in pain and I was asking God that he might forgive my brother (my brother in Jesus Christ that is) for his sins.
I prayed and asked God to direct and lead my friend out of the snares that were being set for him by the enemy.
I asked God not let to let my brother backslide to the point of loosing his faith and his soul and asked God to forgive my brother and not to send him to Hell for what he was now doing.
Before I could even finish my prayer, God spoke out loudly all around me and told me that HE would take care of this – God’s exact and “VERY POWERFUL WORDS” were, quote; – ” I WILL TAKE CARE OF THIS” – then everything went silent.
I went into total shock and sat motionless for many minutes completely blown away by the “ALMIGHTY POWER” I had heard in God’s Voice and what HE had sounded like.
My whole being “every part of me”, knew that it had been “God” who had spoken those words, I wanted to visit the toilet but I couldn’t move a muscle, my body was so scared that I couldn’t put it into words.
I would just like to say to all, that when a person hears “The Voice of God”, it is like no other voice that you will ever hear and – “I don’t say that lightly”.
During my experience, God’s Voice was all around me and it came complete with His Authority and was delivered with His Almighty Power.
God’s Voice sounded like a voice coming out of many dimensions all at the same time, God’s Voice contained many Powerful echoes within it, echoes that were in complete harmony with each other.
There were many huge thunderous booms in God’s Voice and it echoed as if echoing off of many mountains and hills.
Despite the Mighty Volume in God’s Voice, I could not place it as it was everywhere around me at the same time.
The breath of God’s Voice, bathed me completely inside and out in scorching heat but it didn’t burn me, instead it was as though I was made of nothing at all, that’s the only way I can describe the experience.
I was so scared, I felt as though God could have done away with me at any point, but God’s Voice did not disturb one single hair on my head, what was so amazing was, was that I expected to die at any moment, but didn’t.
The heat in God’s Voice went right through every atom of my body as though I was made of nothing at all, it made me feel as though I was invisible.
Something within me rejoiced at the same time as my body (my flesh) was fearing the whole experience, that was a strange experience.
In just a couple of seconds, my flesh wanted to die or at least to run away but it could not move a muscle.
I was bolted firmly to the spot thinking: “Did that really just happen” whilst another feeling within me was saying “yes, it definitely did”, the first thought must have been from my flesh and the second from my Spirit within me.
Please note that I haven’t written this account in order to challenge the experiences of anyone else, for I am sure that God can speak to people in exactly whatever manner God chooses to do that.
With my experience I truly felt the Power of God and I felt the anger in His Voice which made me feel that I could have died at any moment within the whole experience.
I would like to say that I’m not trying to scare anyone either, I just wanted to share this phenomenal experience with whoever reads this account.
This experience is not the only one in my life that I have been given by God, there are many more incredible experiences I have received, far to many to list here.
May God continue to Bless “everyone” that HE has spoken too, for to hear His Voice at all is a True Blessing indeed.
Your different experiences were interesting reading, its comforting to know that there are others out there who have heard “THE POWERFUL AND ALMIGHTY VOICE OF GOD”.
God Bless all of you.
I heard the voice of the holy spirit when I was a child of about 12. I was attending a church revival at
a holiness church in the appalacchian mountains of Kentucky. I was feeling the pull of the Holy spirit
and instead of repenting , I decided to leave the service with an older neighbor of mine. I knew alter
call was comming next. MY neighbor wanted to visit her sister who lived about 25 minutes away from the church. She asked if would go with her . I said yes. About 5 minutes into the drive, God spoke!! audibly!!
He told me that i was going be in an car accident but i would be safe. I knew it was God’s voice, that’s somthing that you just recognize!! We got to our destination, but I knew it wasn’t over yet.
We were there about an hour, then left. ON the way back home again about 5 minutes into the drive
my neighbor, as if in slow motion turned her head to look at a house on the passenger side. Then
it happened. THe car slammed into a pile of steel sheeting. We were both fine.
The car was not drivable. She was briefly in shock, I expected it.!! That was a warning. God’s is in control.
A peaceful but frank response to a comment that I recently received by email from this website:
It is with concern that I have written this message to you, as I was emailed by the team of this website and informed that the experience that I had of “hearing God’s Voice” could have been a spiritual attack.
I’m concerned, because that same someone, has read the scripture of 1Kings 19:12 and told me that if my experience does not line up with scripture, then it was probably an attack and not the genuine Voice of God that I heard.
Would the person who made such a suggestion in the email that was sent, please read the scripture given below, as my experience of God’s Voice was “certainly not a spiritual attack” and “in scriptural fact”, God’s Voice is described as being powerful and full of majesty as the scripture below will show and prove, it also mentions that “the God of glory thundereth” too.
Hopefully, you will now see, after reading my experience again, that my experience does line up with scripture in every way.
I have written this message to bring your attention to the fact that you made a judgment, and in doing so, you also virtually condemned another persons experience by doing so, which is not scriptural either (please read Luke 6:37).
May I remind you, by what is said in God’s Holy Word, that such an action is not a good one, because “in fact”, you were not there at the time, and you did not go through the experience in the way that it was given to me.
I was genuinely upset by your comments, for I have been strongly shown and taught the difference between a genuine spiritual attack and the hearing of God’s Voice and I give all glory to God for that being the case.
Psa 29:3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.
Psa 29:4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
Psa 29:5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
May God Bless you all.
I heard the voice of Jesus Christ: I was at Church one Sunday morning (I went by myself) and I was really troubled at that time. I had feelings of inadequacy as a child of God. Well, as I was praising God I felt that someone was walking behind me. I felt that the person was full of peace and love. Then a voice spoke saying “I will be with you always my child.” It was like my heart had ears because I heard it clear as day through my heart. It was awesome! The voice came from outside and inside of me. God is real guys and God is good!!
On November 20, 2010 at 2:18 in the morning i woke up from a dream. In the dream, a boy who i don’t get along with very well told me he liked me. His name is Anton Walker (name changed to protect the amazing). I woke up very freaked out so i sat up in bed for about five minutes. Then i heard a voice coming from my left side. It was audible, but in my head at the same time. It’s hard to explain. All i know that that wasn’t my own voice talking. The voice said “You know, you and Anton could get married.” I have accepted this but he doesn’t know yet. The past few months have been hard because there were no Hearers (people who have heard God’s voice) to talk to. Now I am so thankful to have found the site. I now i’m not crazy! Well, I am, but in a good way. Each night I pray for any Hearer and I hope you pray for me.
God bless all of you and NEVER forget who you are and what you are called to do.