The rediscovery by ordinary men and women of a sense of the immediacy of God is one of the most distinctive aspects of Quakerism. The writings of early Friends are full of stories of "meetings with God" and of "being led by the Holy Spirit". Sometimes these experiences helped their understanding. Sometimes it was an awareness of something that had to be done as part of God's purpose on this earth. Friends began to use the term "concern" to describe the experience of Friends who believe that God might be saying to them: "this is what needs to be done - and you are to help do it".
This type of direct experience of God is not unique to Friends. It is common to both Judaism and Christianity. But the Religious Society of Friends is unusual in the way it tries to support its members in obedience to such calls. Friends have always encouraged in one another an approach to Christian discipline that stresses the need to be open to the Holy Spirit and the call of God.