As a Christian, you believe a Holy Spirit-filled life gives you strength, power, joy, peace and freedom. But how do you strengthen your relationship with the Holy Spirit? After all, it’s not like you can invite Him out for coffee, over for dinner, or out for a walk.
Or can you? I daresay you can invite the Holy Spirit into your daily routine! In fact, that may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship — and the best way to strengthen your relationship with Him and the Trinity as a whole. The Holy Spirit was with God and the Word in the beginning. The Holy Spirit was with Jesus Christ, and He is here now.
Intellectually, you may know that the Holy Spirit is with you, but how do you actually hear His voice, respond to His call, and do what He asks? How do you build a more meaningful relationship with God? My ideas on how to strengthen your relationship with the Holy Spirit are based on my personal experience.
“How did you grow into a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit?” asks my friend on 3 Healthy Ways to Deal With Constant Guilt. “I don’t imagine there is a formula. I have always known that the Holy Spirit lives within us when we be receive Christ into our life as our Lord and Savior. I believe that the Holy Spirit convicts us and directs us to be like Christ. I also believe that the Holy Spirit’s is self-effacing as it is His job to promote and lift Jesus up so that our attention is on Jesus.”
She’s right: there is no formula for building a stronger relationship with the Holy Spirit. But there are many ways to increase the chances that He will speak into your life. It’s actually kind of scary at first. I had to push through my feelings of boredom and fear at first. Even now, I find it hard to be silent and spend time with the Holy Spirit without asking for stuff or letting my thoughts run wild. But the more time I spend with Him, the stronger our relationship gets.
10 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship With the Holy Spirit
This blog post isn’t just inspired by my friend’s question — it’s also part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project. I’m loosely writing about Leviticus 6, which describes God speaking to Moses. The Israelites are learning how to be God’s chosen people; the crux of their existence is their relationship with the Lord God who brought them out of Egypt. Since the Israelites can’t approach God on their own, they need Moses and the priests to act as intermediaries. They also need to atone for their sins through sacrifices such as the Burnt Offering, the Grain Offering, and the Sin Offering.
What stands out to me about Leviticus 6 is the lack of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is foreshadowed in the book of Leviticus; He is the High Priest, and His life is the sacrifice that takes the place of all the animal and grain offerings in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit isn’t often mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures — though He does show up occasionally. I believe He was hovering the whole time, just like He was in Genesis in the beginning. He just wasn’t accessible to the Israelites the way He is to us today.
The Holy Spirit is accessible and even eager to be a discernible, active, vital part of our daily lives as followers of Jesus. He is always hovering, whispering and nudging…even when we’re barely awake or aware of His presence. Time to wake up! These tips on how to strengthen your relationship with the Holy Spirit might be the alarm clock you need.
1. Know who you are
The biggest hurdle for me was realizing that I am good. I am valuable, lovable, and treasured by God! I was created on purpose, for a purpose, with great care and love. I knew this intellectually — “Jesus loves me, this I know…for the Bible tells me so…” but I never internalized it. If it never sinks into your heart how deeply God loves and cherishes you, then you’ll never be capable of building a stronger relationship with the Holy Spirit. Why? Because your heart changes everything.
2. Dwell in the Father’s love every morning
Here’s what I’ve been soaking up every day: “Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move…Yes, you are a marvel.” ~ Pablo Picasso (1876-1973).
3. Have a conversation with the Holy Spirit
I write in my journal every morning at 4:30 am. “Good morning, Holy Spirit — how was your night? Father God, how are you today? Jesus! Hello! So glad you’re here. Coffee, anyone?” I ask God questions. I picture Jesus Christ, and share how I feel. I strengthen my relationship with the Holy Spirit by consciously choosing to include Him in every conversation, every interaction, as often as possible. I record what pops into my head in brackets ( ), so I can look back and see how the Spirit may have spoken. I don’t really know for sure which are my own thoughts and which are actually the Holy Spirit’s whispers and nudges…and it doesn’t matter. I refuse to second guess or question myself. Instead, I accept what’s been given and move along in joy, peace and surrender.
4. Notice the Holy Spirit’s whispers and nudges
I suspect you’ve already been hearing the Holy Spirit speak to you. It’s just that you aren’t sure if it’s really Him. After all, what does God’s voice sound like, is it really Him, and what if you’re wrong? Growing a healthy spiritual relationship with Jesus is a huge leap of faith because we never really know for sure what the heck is going on. Christians who say “God told me to tell you…” or “God wants me to do this….” may truly believe they are being directed by the Holy Spirit. I don’t doubt or question their relationship with God, but I don’t experience the Holy Spirit so clearly and absolutely. For me, it’s more like a nudge and a whisper. A feeling I should email that person, say that thing, take that class, buy that house, avoid that street.
5. Remember how the Holy Spirit nudged and spoke in the past
How do you strengthen your relationship with anyone — the Holy Spirit included? By remembering stuff together! By talking about your friendship, marriage, working relationship, life together. By sharing memories and laughing about the good stuff. By revisiting the problems you encountered and how you overcame them. Look at your strongest relationships with people, past and present. How did you grow stronger and closer to them? That’s how to strengthen your relationship with the Holy Spirit.
6. Be curious and open-minded
Asking fellow Christians how they strengthened their relationship with the Holy Spirit is a fantastic way to grow. The more curious you are about the Holy Spirit and how He leads people, the more you’ll learn. Information itself won’t necessarily change your heart or enliven your spirit, but it will help you know who the Holy Spirit is. His job is to transform your heart, renew your mind, and change how you live. Your job is to ask for His presence, keep seeking His love, and stay focused on building your relationship with Him.
7. Think of the Holy Spirit as a “She”
The Holy Spirit is mostly referred to as “He”, and that’s how I most often think of Him. But the image I have in my head is a She! My personal image of the Holy Spirit is a nurturing, loving, kind woman who dances and hugs me and throws Her head back with laughter. I call her Ruach, which is the Hebrew word for Holy Spirit. Sometimes I call her Roo-Roo. I also picture myself as a little girl with Her — especially when we dance, embrace, and weep on each other’s shoulders. I love Ruach as much as I love Jesus Christ and God the Father. My image of Her brings her alive; I didn’t create Her to purposely strengthen my relationship with the Holy Spirit, but She changed everything.
8. Be quiet and listen
The best way to grow your relationship with the Holy Spirit is to be quiet and listen. You can do this in many different ways: walking in the forest or sitting in your bubble bath. I encourage you to just dwell in the Spirit’s presence instead of asking for stuff. Just be still and sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit. When other thoughts come into your mind — which they will, for you are human and smart — just let them keep going through. Your thoughts and the external noises around you are only distractions if you dwell on them. If you step aside and let them pass by, then they aren’t a distraction. They’re just leaves blowing in the wind.
9. Read books and learn more about the Holy Spirit
I’m currently reading The Face of the Deep: Exploring the Mysterious Person of the Holy Spirit by Paul Pastor — and I love this book! Many Christians don’t have a clear idea of the Holy Spirit’s role in their life. Yet Scripture is full of stories that show the Spirit as a vibrant, personal being. The Face of the Deep invites you on a quest for the Holy Spirit that journeys through our world and Bible.
My favorite Bible right now is the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Study Bible. It has full-color visuals that illustrate the structure and context of Scripture, which makes it come alive! This Bible has 94 beautiful photographs, 55 maps, 44 paintings, 21 illustrations and reconstructions, 19 charts, and 61 timelines. There are easy-to-understand introductions and outlines for each book of the Bible, including background information, theological themes, and insights into the unique contribution of each book.
Other books on how to strengthen your relationship with the Holy Spirit:
- Open to the Spirit: God in Us, God with Us, God Transforming Us by Scot McKnight
- How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit by AW Tozer
- Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
- The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life by Billy Graham
I also love Todd Spencer’s Lectio Divina podcast — Meditating and praying with the Scripture using the ancient practice of lectio divina. I listen to one episode every morning while I walk, and bookmark the ones that are especially powerful.
10. Know that the Holy Spirit is calling you
You’re searching for tips on how to strengthen your relationship with the Holy Spirit for one reason: He is calling you! You are already responding to the Spirit’s nudges and whispers. You wouldn’t want to grow stronger with Him if He wasn’t drawing you closer. You won’t always feel the Holy Spirit’s presence, feel His power, or know He is right here with you. But you can remember and keep telling yourself that God always makes the first move. And He is moving you to draw closer and strengthen your relationship with Him. Your task is to respond, even in the smallest way, to His prompting.
How will you respond to the Holy Spirit’s call on your life? Pick one or two of the ten tips in this list, and commit to it for at least one month. Pay attention to the changes in your relationship with Him, and celebrate each tiny step of growth! For huge oak trees grow out of tiny seeds that sprout and slowly blossom…
If you don’t sense the Holy Spirit or feel His presence, you might find How to Endure Spiritually Dark Times helpful.
With His love,