First of all, let me clarify what I mean by "Word of Knowledge" to avoid confusions. I'm particularly interested in the following definition from Wikipedia:

[...] It can also be defined as knowing the secrets of another person's heart [...]

Or in my own wording:

Person A receives a "download" of very specific private/sensitive information about person B, which person B has not shared with anyone up to that point or at least there is no way person A could've known that information. Person A discloses these revelations to person B together with some encouraging message, and person B reacts with shock, typically expressing their bewilderment with phrases like "How did you know that?!!!!".

In my investigations I've come across a handful of anecdotes that more or less match this definition (e.g. 1, 2). For example, I remember the case of a preacher A approaching a person B and telling them something along the lines of "do you remember when you woke up at 4:00 am in your room on this specific date, you stood up and did these specific actions, and then you asked God these specific things? The Lord is telling me that ..." while person B broke into tears as their secrets were revealed with astonishing accuracy. When I come across anecdotes of "word of knowledge" like this, I can't help but feel very impressed. However, my personal impression is that these sorts of anecdotes are relatively uncommon, and I'm having a hard time recalling a case that didn't happen in the context of a Pentecostal or Charismatic denomination.

Question: Are there recorded occurrences of "words of knowledge" outside of denominations that label themselves as Pentecostal or Charismatic? Say, a Baptist missionary receiving a "word of knowledge" in the jungle which led to an unconverted accepting Christianity, etc.

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    It happened to me (American Baptist) years ago. I heard a voice in my head crying for help. I asked who needed help, and a name popped into my head. I called her on the phone and left a message that I was praying for her and was concerned. She later called me back, shocked. At the very minute that I called, my friend was in tears, crying to God for help, wondering if he was listening. I guess he was! Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 13:21
  • "knowing the secrets of another person's heart" would, if you take Astrologists word for it, describe a huge portion of the practice of Astrology. Not just sun-sign horoscopes, mind you, the more in depth form that you'd get if you visited a professional.
    – TKoL
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 8:32
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    in my church there is a preacher who occasionally reveals people's thoughts (by Holy Spirit), the manifestation of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit is very common in poor areas of Brazil. Search for this one: "God Is Love Davi Miranda" and "Igreja Santidade e Arrependiment" Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 19:22

3 Answers 3


Yes. I can recall two instances in my own life as a Baptist.

  1. Returning from Christmas caroling cold and tired, before I lay down for a nap, I asked God in prayer if He had anything for me to do. Twenty minutes later I awoke, refreshed. I heard a voice say, "Help!" I asked, "Who?" Then I heard the name of a friend spoken. I called her on the phone, but she was not home, so I left a message saying that I was concerned about her and was praying. A day or two later she called me back and asked how I knew. At the very instant I left the phone message, she was bawling her eyes out, asking God if he cared. I guess we know the answer to that!

  2. During a prayer meeting at church, I suddenly was overwhelmed with anguish and began to cry. The face of an acquaintance named Sally whom I had not seen in about two years popped into my head. I began to pray for her. A year or two later, she visited our church. At the time when I was praying, she was in a hospital in Papua, New Guineau, recovering from a sexual assault and attempted murder, despairing of life and contemplating suicide. She shared how friends of hers from around the world were all moved to pray for her. One of her friends was moved to pray earlier than me, during the actual attack. That friend while praying was reading a Psalm that speaks of God scattering your enemies. Our friend had been attacked by a gang that never leaves survivors. In the middle of the assault, their faces all went blank and they walked away from her, leaving her beaten but alive.

Historically, Baptists wouldn't call this a "word of knowledge", but instead say "the Lord burdened my heart to pray for you". Knowing who needs help and when they need it I would call a "word of knowledge".


Are there any accounts of “words of knowledge” taking place outside of Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations?

The short answer is yes.

In Christianity, the word of knowledge is a spiritual gift listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8. It has been associated with the ability to teach the faith, but also with forms of revelation similar to prophecy. It is closely related to another spiritual gift, the word of wisdom.

Among Pentecostal and some Charismatic Christians, the word of knowledge is often defined as the ability of one person to know what God is currently doing or intends to do in the life of another person. It can also be defined as knowing the secrets of another person's heart. Through this revelation, it is believed that God encourages the faith of the believer to receive the healing or comfort that God offers. For example, in a public gathering, a person who claims to have the gift of knowledge may describe a medical problem (such as syphilis or trench foot) and ask anyone suffering from the described problem to identify themselves and receive an effective prayer for healing. According to this definition, the word of knowledge is a form of revelation similar to prophecy or a type of discernment.

Many Catholic saints have had this gift. We generally call it the ability to read souls. It is closely related to a special gift of intuition.

A facet of Mystical knowledge is a supernatural gift of God whereby a Saint is able to read into the heart and conscience of an individual to then be able to guide and direct the person towards a greater union with God. Over the centuries, this gift of reading into souls has often been given to Priests that they may better guide penitents in the Sacrament of Confession. Some of the Priests famous for the gift of reading souls are St Padre Pio (d. 1968), St Anthony of Padua (d. 1231), St John Bosco (d. 1888), St Philip Neri (d.1595), St Francis of Paola (d. 1507), St Joseph of Cupertino (d. 1663) and St Paul of the Cross (d. 1775) to name just a few.

There have also been many mystics who have received this gift of reading into hearts, such as St Gerard Majella (d. 1755), St Catherine of Siena (d. 1380), St Lydwine of Schiedam (d. 1433), St Hedwig (d. 1243) and in modern times the mystics Blessed Alexandrina da Costa (d. 1955) and Servant of God Marthe Robin (d. 1981), and the American mystic Marie-Rose Ferron (d. 1936) to name just a few.

Perhaps one of the greatest and most documented examples of the gift of reading into souls can be found in the extraordinary life of St. John Vianney (1786-1859), affectionately known across the world as “The Cure of Ars”. St John Vianney was a most zealous priest who spent his whole life for the conversion of sinners. Sainte Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney as he is known in France was a country priest in the small town of Ars, France. He spent literally 16-18 hours a day in the confessional, and people from all over France and abroad made pilgrimages to Ars to visit the “Holy Cure”, and to go to him in Confession. For God, who was pleased with the love and devotion of this holy priest gave him the gift of reading hearts, so as to be able to lead sinners closer to God, and St John Vianney certainly possessed this gift in a most extraordinary way.

The gift of reading hearts in the life of St John Vianney

Because of his gift of reading souls, people came from all over France to go to Confession to the holy Cure of Ars, and although he spent from 16-18 hours a day in the Confessional, there were always long lines of people waiting to seek advice and counsel from him, for he truly was a “alter Christus”, that is, another Christ. He are some true stories about his amazing gift of seeing into the heart of men. - Mystical knowledge in the lives of the Saints –The gift of reading into hearts

Some years ago, I read “The Cure D’Ars” by Abbe Franicis Trochu in the original French and still have my favourite stories to retell.

On day, Fr. John Vianney was saying Mass and the topic of his homily was on the 6th and 9th commandments. Those present knew that his holy priest could see into the souls of those present. Before starting into his sermon he made a little announcement: “I will be preaching on the sins against the 6th and 9th commandments. Anyone guilty of sins on these two commandments should leave now.”

The Cure d’Ars very often would preach while walking down the aisle of the church, going to the pulpit which was situated in the middle of the church. Along the way, he would would rebuke big sinners publicly of their sins. If they denied them, he would numerate them, for all to hear.

In both Catholic and Protestant churches the pulpit may be located closer to the main congregation in the nave, either on the nave side of the crossing, or at the side of the nave some way down. This is especially the case in large churches, to ensure the preacher can be heard by all the congregation. - Location of pulpit


Early in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, there is a record of exactly such a thing happening.

Oliver Cowdery was a young man who had heard of Joseph Smith and him being in the process of translating the Book of Mormon. He had prayed to God to know whether Joseph was a prophet or a fraud, and had received a witness, before traveling to Joseph's home and offering his help as a scribe. He had told no one about that prayer.

This is what was told to him by Joseph when he inquired the Lord for guidance (or whatever the occasion was):


22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.

23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

24 And now, behold, you have received a witness; for if I have told you things which no man knoweth have you not received a witness?

LDS wouldn't call this "word of knowledge", they don't really have special expression to describe this kind of revelation. I am pretty sure if you looked a little harder than I did here, you would find a lot of other examples. I don't think it is common, I would claim what is more common is that the right words of encouragement are inspired without knowing the secrets.

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