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Faith Forum: Does God communicate with people directly?

Rajan Zed

According to an Associated Press story, Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently said while flying home he was looking at the sky while everyone was sound asleep, and he heard a voice that said, “If you don't stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now.”

“And I said, ‘Who is this?’ So, of course, ‘it's God,’’’ said Duterte.

Duterte, who is Roman Catholic, says he has promised to God he won't spew expletives again.

Many have claimed God spoke to them directly. Seeing something or hearing voices while alone which others cannot see or hear is reportedly quite common. A Gallup 1999 analysis reportedly said 23 percent of all Americans have heard a voice or seen a vision.

Does God speak to humans directly or through messengers/deities/angels/saints/inspired-persons/ sages/intermediaries/representatives? Or does he speak through scriptures or in dreams or through visions — or is there another channel of communication? Does God appear in a physical form or do human beings only hear the voice of God? Or maybe God does not communicate at all?

Does God still need to talk to us directly since God is said to have already delivered to us divine scriptures with God’s complete message?

What can be the best way for God to communicate with the humans?

We asked our panel of distinguished religious leaders of the region the following question: Does God speak directly to humans?

Here is what they have to say:



Stephen R. Karcher, St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church presiding priest

God speaks to everyone, but we need to learn how to listen to Him! “God so loved the world”, says the Gospel, and so he speaks to us in the language of this love. He speaks through dreams, visions and voices. We can learn to hear God speak through his Church, through the love of his people and through the voice of his priests and pastors. When we listen to, read and study the Holy Scriptures, he speaks using the voice of our heart. Scripture teaches us that God also speaks through the circumstances we encounter: “All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Scripture describes how God spoke directly with Abraham, Moses, Elijah and others. These were people ready to hear his voice because they had pure hearts. We too, can learn how to hear him.


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Justin V. Deverse, Baha’i teacher

There is certainly spiritual inspiration, but the source depends on our perspective. Baha'u'llah taught there can be no direct relationship between God, the unknowable ultimate reality and human beings. Direct communication would imply equity. The purpose of the manifestations of God, those originators of the world's great religions, is to mediate and make God's will known to us. Our own transcendent connection is through prayers and readings revealed by God's messengers, in language imbued with special potency. The Baha'i writings express that while in the state of prayer, and careful meditation after, inspiration may be offered. “The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently, it is certain that those who are near the Divine Court are allowed to intercede, and this intercession is approved by God.” We must therefore be open, but carefully discern the source to remove our own desires or inclinations.


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Steve Bond, lead pastor, Summit Christian Church, Sparks

Yes … God speaks directly to humans. Over 2,000 times in the Old Testament there are phrases such as, "And God spoke to Moses" or "the word of the Lord came to Jonah" or "God said."  We see an example of this in Jeremiah 1:9. "The LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, 'Now I have put my words in your mouth.'" Jeremiah claims to speak specific words God had put into his mouth.

During the birth of Jesus, God spoke to Mary through an angel; he spoke to Joseph through a dream; he spoke to the shepherds through an angel and he spoke to the Magi through a dream. Yes, God speaks!

But now that the Scriptures are complete, any word from God must be corroborated by the Bible. God’s Word is the plumb-line against which all new revelation is measured.


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Kenneth G. Lucey, UNR philosophy/religion professor

Doubtless, many people talk to God all the time. This is simply “praying.”  What is less certain is whether anyone is listening. The U.S. Founding Fathers, who were called “deists” rather than “theists,” did not engage in prayer because — although they believed in a creator God — they did not believe in a personal God who answered prayers. Some humans have reported that spiritual beings talk to them. For example, Moses reported God spoke to him from a burning bush. Socrates reported in "The Apology" that throughout his life he heard a spiritual voice, which would warn him not to do various things that were wrong or dangerous. Other people have reported having “spirit guides” who would channel or speak through them. It is of course possible spirits do exist but that none of them qualify as being God. Most psychics I have read about claim to be theists.


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Sherif A. Elfass, Northern Nevada Muslim Community president

In Islam, the means of communication that can take place between God and human beings are described by God in the Quran: “And it is not for any human being that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a partition or that He sends a messenger to reveal, by His permission, what He wills. Indeed, He is Most High and Wise.” (42:51).  Islam teaches us Allah (SWT) spoke directly to Prophets Adam, Moses and Muhammad (PBUT) only without ever revealing Himself (from behind a partition). Allah (SWT) spoke to some of the prophets, like Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH), through revelation that came as dreams. However, the most common method Allah (SWT) used to communicate to His prophets is through angels sent as messengers. Since no prophets will come after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the communication between Allah (SWT) and human beings is limited to revelations through dreams.


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Monique Jacobs, director of faith formation, Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno

God has a long history of speaking directly to humans. In Scripture — Old and New Testaments — you will see God has made it a priority to communicate directly with us over the centuries. If you love someone, you find every opportunity to communicate — it’s no different for God. Though you may not have experienced this (yet) God doesn’t reserve this loving, intimate conversation for saints alone. There is a lot of competition in our lives for the voice of God; the trick is to make time for quiet: intervals of solitude, hiking or running without earphones, sitting beside a candle trusting your presence is enough. Breathe. God is patient, so must we be. We cannot make these encounters happen by willpower; it is all God’s initiative — our part is the response. Our heart should be open, expectant; don’t worry about “doing it” right or imagining the whisper.


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Matthew T. Fisher, Reno Buddhist Center resident priest

Buddhism is a non-theistic world view, so this is not a central question. But we can ask if the Light of the universe can be heard? After the Buddha was enlightened he described a vibrant scene — more beautiful than any he had ever seen. He called this “being awake,” deeply hearing the world around him. All sentient beings can reach this state, but we are limited by biases and narrow habits of thought. This deep hearing of the light is joyous appreciation of the wondrous gifts the universe offers. Does the universe talk? Only if we listen.

Conversations do happen. Just after the Buddha was enlightened, the highest of Hindu gods, Brahma, encouraged Buddha to go forth and teach. Though Buddha was reluctant, he was swayed by Brahma’s request. And sutras recount many gods listening with interest to the Buddha’s important discourses like the Lotus Sutra.


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Sharla S. Hales, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints area public affairs director

God loves us as He loved people in Bible times. We need Him now as they did then. He still speaks!

God speaks through different channels, according to individual needs. Often, He speaks through a still, small voice. Sometimes His voice is felt; other times it is audible. He speaks through scriptures, impressions, dreams and angels. On matters universally relevant, He speaks through His living prophet. Occasionally Christ physically appears on earth and speaks.

We hear God’s words according to our faithfulness, to help with our personal needs.

Quiet spiritual promptings are not as spectacular as visions or angelic visitations, but they are just as powerful and life changing if we listen and act.

God invites us to seek His voice, and he answers: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7).


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Brian E. Melendez, American Indian spirituality scholar

The-Creator-of-all-things can communicate with any of us, at anytime, in any fashion — there are no limitations to the might and reach of the Great Spirit. Whoever or whatever is going to deliver that divine message: just remember, it’s all part of the plan. There are no accidents or coincidences ...

Indigenous peoples from all across the World have always believed the power of sacred places, strength of our ancestors and maintaining closeness to Mother Earth assures that whatever message we need to receive from the Creator will always be crystal clear (even if it takes a lifetime to understand) and right on time.

What strengthens tribal spirituality is the utilization of customs, rituals and ceremonies. Many of us walk the Earth, understanding that every tree, stone, river and mountaintop is our church — connecting us to all things under the sun, the moon and the stars.


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ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, Temple Beth Or rabbi

“From G-d’s dwelling place, G-d carefully tends all inhabitants of Earth”  (Psalms 33:14).  According to some, hagacha pratit is a fundamental concept that everything one sees, hears, feels or experiences is compliments of the Holy One who is always watching over us and guiding us at every moment. In other words, “a heron doesn’t catch a particular fish” (Zeraim, 9:1) nor “a leaf doesn’t fall from a tree” (Besht) and land in a particular place unless G-d oversees it. Thus, G-d watches over animals and even inanimate objects.

Maimonides finds the Creator and Creations are inextricably involved in relationship. “You should know that everything is done according to [G-d’s] will, and nevertheless our actions are in our hands (Hilchot Teshuva 5:7). There is a connection between our intentions and desires and G-d’s intervention and interactions with us. G-d speaks to us every moment, guiding us individually. However, some disagree.


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Guest panelist Jason D. Guinasso, Esq., associate pastor, Ministerio Palabra de Vida and legal counsel for several local churches, ministries and nonprofit organizations

Yes. Our God is a relational God, and one of His chief desires is to grow His relationship with humanity through regular communication. Throughout human history, God has initiated communication with humanity by speaking audibly to humans. He also speaks to us through the glory of His creation. Additionally, He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit and through dreams, visions and our thoughts. Further, God will use events and circumstances to speak with us. More often than not, God uses the people He has placed in our lives to speak to us. Over the years, those who have heard His voice have recorded what He has had to say in His written word, the Bible. God continues to speak through the words that were written. The question is: Are humans listening? “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts ... ” (Hebrews 3:15).

Next week’s topic:  Is “dying well” an art?

Faith Forum is a weekly dialogue on religion produced by religious statesman Rajan Zed. Send questions or comments to [email protected] or on Twitter at @rajanzed.


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