Who talked with God?

Throughout history, many individuals have claimed to speak with God or receive divine revelations. Determining the veracity of such claims is complex, often relying on faith rather than empirical evidence. Still, some figures stand out for their influential communications said to come straight from the heavens. This article will explore prominent prophets, saints, and spiritual leaders who famously talked with God according to tradition.


Moses holds a central place in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam for his role as prophet and lawgiver. According to the Bible, God spoke to Moses through a burning bush and commanded him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Throughout their 40 years in the wilderness, Moses continued communicating with God, receiving the Ten Commandments and other laws.

Exodus 33 recounts a particularly intimate conversation, where God spoke to Moses “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Moses is described as seeing God’s back but not full face, with later biblical authors clarifying no one can fully perceive God and live. Still, Moses’ direct communications established him as the supreme prophet in Judaism.

How did God speak to Moses?

According to Exodus, God spoke to Moses in different ways:

  • Through a burning bush
  • In a cloud on Mount Sinai
  • Face to face like a friend
  • Audible voice from the Tabernacle

Moses thus had revelatory experiences of hearing God’s voice directly but also more symbolic visions and dreams.


Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is considered the greatest prophet in the Muslim tradition for receiving Allah’s final revelation compiled as the Quran. According to hadiths (records of Muhammad’s life), at age 40 he was meditating in a cave when the angel Gabriel appeared to him and delivered the first Quranic verses.

Muhammad continued to have visions of Gabriel and communications from Allah for the rest of his life. The text instructing Muhammad to “read” and his response “I cannot read” appears at the start of Surah 96 in the Quran, underscoring the book’s origin as God’s divine word revealed through Muhammad.

How did God speak to Muhammad?

The main ways Allah spoke to Muhammad include:

  • Through the angel Gabriel
  • Quranic revelations over 23 years
  • In dreams and visions

Muhammad served as a messenger receiving Allah’s words rather than directly seeing God, making the Quran itself the major miracle.

Joan of Arc

The French saint Joan of Arc claimed to receive visions from God encouraging her to support Charles VII and liberate France from English rule during the Hundred Years’ War. Her divine communications reportedly started at age 13 when saints Catherine, Margaret, and Michael first spoke to her.

Joan believed she was chosen for a holy mission. After correctly predicting defeats, she eventually convinced Charles VII to give her troops. Joan played a key role in French victories but was captured in 1430 and burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19.

How did God speak to Joan of Arc?

According to Joan and trial records, God communicated with her through:

  • Voices of saints like Catherine, Margaret, and Michael
  • Visions of figures like the archangel Gabriel

Joan described vivid visual and auditory experiences starting in childhood, which inspired her prophetic journey.

Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith founded Mormonism based on his accounts of angelic visits and uncovering divine golden plates. Starting at age 14 in 1820, Smith said he received his First Vision of God and Jesus in the woods of upstate New York.

Ten years later, the angel Moroni led Smith to buried golden plates inscribed with ancient scripture. After translating the plates as the Book of Mormon, Mormons believe Smith regularly received revelations and prophesies up until his murder in 1844.

How did God speak to Joseph Smith?

Smith’s primary divine communications included:

  • First Vision of God and Jesus as a pillar of light
  • Visits from the angel Moroni guiding him to golden plates
  • Translating the golden plates into the Book of Mormon
  • Subsequent prophecies and revelations as church founder

Smith claimed both mystical visions and tangible discoveries of ancient scripture written by prophets.

Mary Baker Eddy

Christian Science emerged in the 19th century US after founder Mary Baker Eddy said she experienced a miraculous healing from a fall. This led to a three-year study of the Bible and alleged new revelations.

In 1875, her work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was published, claiming a unique understanding of Christianity with fundamental ideas and practices learned directly from God.

How did God speak to Mary Baker Eddy?

Eddy detailed her divine communications as:

  • A healing experience that drove studying the Bible
  • New spiritual understandings revealed while developing Christian Science
  • Writing Science and Health with inspiration from God

For Eddy, God spoke through transformative personal experiences and guiding her to write seminal religious texts.

Other Notable Figures

Many other significant religious figures have also described direct revelations from God, though with varying historical evidence behind their claims. Examples include:

  • Abraham – Patriarch spoken to by God in the Old Testament
  • Jesus – Believed by Christians to be the Son of God and communicate His message
  • Bernadette Soubirous – French girl who in 1858 claimed visions of the Virgin Mary
  • Ellen G. White – Co-founder of Seventh-day Adventism who said she had over 2,000 visions
  • Sri Ramakrishna – Hindu mystic who often had visions of deities while in spiritual ecstasies

The full scope of religious figures claiming divine communication is vast, though a few names stand out for their cultural influence.

Verification of Divine Conversations

With so many reports of talking with God and receiving prophecy, a natural question is how such accounts can be verified. Some potential approaches include:

  • Historical records confirming key details
  • Witnesses hearing voices or seeing visions
  • Accurate predictions lending credibility
  • Textual analysis supporting divine origins
  • Assessing alternative explanations like hallucinations

Yet many believed conversations with the divine come down to faith in the speaker rather than definitive proof. The truth of prophetic experiences often remains debated.

Challenges Verifying Divine Conversations

Some factors making divine conversations hard to authenticate include:

  • Lack of independent or empirical evidence
  • Possibility of alternative explanations
  • High reliance on the speaker’s credibility
  • Selective memory or embellishment over time
  • Bias of followers wanting to believe claims

With only the speaker’s account as evidence, establishing spiritual revelations as factually true can be difficult if not impossible.

Shared Patterns and Differences

Despite spanning vastly different times and faiths, a few shared patterns emerge among influential figures claiming communication with the divine:

  • Experiences starting at a young age
  • Motivation to share messages with larger communities
  • Ongoing revelation over months or years
  • Founding or redefining religious movements

However, the nature and purpose of their spiritual conversations differed considerably:

Figure How God Spoke Message Transmitted
Moses Visions, voice, tablets Ten Commandments and Jewish law
Muhammad Angel transmitting Quran Recitations collected as Quranic verses
Joan of Arc Voices of saints Military guidance to liberate France

So while mystics across eras describe ongoing divine communication, the exact content and purpose widely varies.

Possible Explanations

If accepting accounts of talking with God at face value seems unreasonable, what other explanations might skeptics suggest?

Mental Illness

One potential alternative is that those claiming divine revelations were experiencing mental illness manifesting as hallucinations or delusions. Schizophrenia in particular can accompany convincing auditory and visual hallucinations.

Yet many figures showing other signs of mental illness also exposed to religious ideas did not found major enduring spiritual movements, so illness alone seems insufficient.

Intentional Deception

For critics, reports of God speaking could also represent outright lies and manipulation. However, the willingness of many prophets to face persecution and execution lends credibility to their sincerity, even if they were mistaken.

Metaphors and Myth-Making

Another perspective is that accounts of talking with God served as metaphors, myths, or literary devices to convey spiritual truths, develop community identity, or inspire moral reform. Viewed non-literally, prophetic claims crystallized key values.

Mystical Experiences

Finally, psychologists note many cultures report mystical experiences of unseen realms or cosmic unity. Though subjective, prophets may have genuinely experienced transcendent states and interpreted them theologically.


The question of who talked with God depends heavily on culture and personal worldviews. Moses, Muhammad, Joan of Arc represent some of the most prominent examples within religious traditions. While specifics vary, recurrent patterns exist like visionary gifts from a young age and founding of enduring faith communities.

Verifying such divine conversations proves challenging, with factual truth often intertwined cultural myth. Those believing the claims as reported may credit God directly communicating with humanity, while skeptics see alternative explanations behind these storied prophets and prophecies. The debates likely persist as part of humanity’s fascination with the divine.

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