It is part of human nature to seek a deeper understanding and connection with a higher power. For Christians, this means seeking God. This craving isn’t new, something reserved for postmodern humanity. It is a desire that has been present in us since Creation. Even as Christ walked the earth, those around Him yearned to come closer to God.
In his desire to know God more intimately, Philip said to Jesus: “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us” ().
But how do we go about knowing God, and is it even possible to know Him here and now, just as we are? Don’t we have to wait to be changed from mortal to immortal beings?
One of Job’s friends, called Zophar, asked: “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” ().
Inspiration answers, “We cannot by searching find out God, but He has revealed Himself in His Son, who is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person. If we desire a knowledge of God we must be Christlike. . . . Living a pure life through faith in Christ as a personal Saviour will bring to the believer a clearer, higher conception of God.”1
To Phillip, Jesus answered: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” ().
We could search our entire lives and never find Him, but He has disclosed Himself to us. God wants to be found. So much so, that He has provided numerous ways for us to encounter Him.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God gives us the condition necessary before we know Him here and now: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” ().
Our search for God shouldn’t be limited to theory. We need to actively search for Him daily. In His mercy God has provided means by which we can come closer to Him and know Him more intimately:
If a person you’ve never heard of before is mentioned in conversation and your curiosity is piqued, you will likely dedicate some time to researching that person to know more about them. Unsatisfied with only the brief mention you heard, perhaps you will Google them to read what others have said about them or what they have said about themselves. You will ask those around you, what they have heard or what they think.
God has prepared a buffet of information for those who seek to know more about Him. We must not be satisfied with superficial knowledge only. Christ has told us to “search the Scriptures” (). He wants us to know Him personally; therefore, He has provided the Bible as a revelation of Himself:
“The blessed Bible gives us a knowledge of the great plan of salvation and shows us how every individual may have eternal life. Who is the author of the Book?—Jesus Christ. He is the True Witness, and He says to His own, ‘I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.’ The Bible shows us the way to Christ, and in Christ eternal life is revealed.”2
Our attitude and intention when we open the Bible determines what we will glean from its pages. The Word of God will lead us to know Him more intimately if we study it with an open heart. We can know God more intimately if we allow the Holy Spirit to impress us with the pure truths of the Holy Scriptures.
“The Jews had the Scriptures which testified of Christ, but they were not able to discern Christ in the Scriptures. The truths of the Old Testament they had so mingled with human opinions that its teachings were mystified, and the will of God to man covered up. Christ’s sermon on the mount virtually contradicted the doctrines of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees. They had so misrepresented God that He was looked upon as a stern judge, incapable of compassion, mercy, or love. They presented to the people endless maxims and traditions that had not a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ for their authority. Though they professed to know and to worship the true and living God, they wholly misrepresented Him and His character as revealed in His Son. Christ labored constantly to sweep away those misrepresentations, that the confidence of men in the love of God might be restored. He taught man to address the supreme Ruler by the new name ‘Our Father.’ This name represents our true relation to Him, and when spoken sincerely by human lips, it is music in the ears of God. Christ leads us to the throne of God by a new and living way.”3
Are you willing to read and study your Bible with an open heart, to learn, and to be transformed? Then you will know God and experience His power in your life as never before. You will see changes in yourself as well as those around you.
If the person you were researching on Google is even mildly famous, it is unlikely you will be able to reach them via email or telephone. Maybe there’s a number for their office, but you won’t be able to reach them personally.
But we can reach God by bowing our heads and folding our hands. Prayer is a direct channel to God. It deepens our relationship with Him, and thus we gain a greater understanding of our heavenly Father. Prayer helps us become aware of God’s presence in our lives and strengthens our connection with Him.
Through prayer, we can express gratitude, seek God’s guidance, confess sins, and ask for forgiveness. Prayer also provides an opportunity for quiet reflection, allowing us to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, giving us a deeper understanding of our own needs and God’s willingness to bless us and give us the power to overcome.
“The Bible shows us God in His high and holy place, not in a state of inactivity, not in silence and solitude, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy intelligences, all waiting to do His will. Through channels which we cannot discern He is in active communication with every part of His dominion. But it is in this speck of a world, in the souls that He gave His only-begotten Son to save, that His interest and the interest of all heaven is centered. God is bending from His throne to hear the cry of the oppressed. To every sincere prayer He answers, ‘Here am I.’ He uplifts the distressed and downtrodden. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. In every temptation and every trial the angel of His presence is near to deliver.
“Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father’s notice. Satan’s hatred against God leads him to hate every object of the Saviour’s care. He seeks to mar the handiwork of God, and he delights in destroying even the dumb creatures. It is only through God’s protecting care that the birds are preserved to gladden us with their songs of joy. But He does not forget even the sparrows. ‘Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.’ ”4
“Daily prayer is as essential to growth in grace, and even to spiritual life itself, as is temporal food to physical well-being. We should accustom ourselves to often lift the thoughts to God in prayer. If the mind wanders, we must bring it back; by persevering effort, habit will finally make it easy. We cannot for one moment separate ourselves from Christ with safety. We may have His presence to attend us at every step, but only by observing the conditions which He has Himself laid down.”5
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” ().
“What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God’s heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little and have so little faith? The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; and yet the children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of His Spirit, the companionship of His presence.”6
“We should have the door of the heart open continually and our invitation going up that Jesus may come and abide as a heavenly guest in the soul.
“Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with heaven.”7
“We can talk with Jesus. We can talk with Jesus as Enoch talked with God. He could tell his Lord all about his trials. Here was the way Enoch walked with God, and when the light shone out upon his pathway, he did not expect to say, ‘Why, what will my friends and relatives say of me if I take this course?’ No, he did that which was right whatever the consequence.
“Now Enoch sought to have a connection with God, and those who do not have a connection with God have a connection with someone else who will lead them away from everything good. All of us have a character to form. Enoch formed a righteous character and the result was that he was translated to heaven without seeing death. When the Lord shall come the second time there will be some who will be translated without seeing death, and we want to know if we will be among that number. We want to know if we are wholly on the Lord’s side—partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust—not by trying to make a clear path for our feet where we shall have no trials or difficulties to meet, but by placing ourselves in right relation to God, and letting Him take care of the consequences.”8
Will you pray more from now on?
Maybe in your search to know more about the elusive famous person you researched, you meet with someone who has met them personally. You hear their experience and combine it with the experience that someone else had, and soon you are forming a fuller and richer picture of that person’s character.
Worshipping God in community enriches our relationship with Him. Through shared experiences, we discover facets of God’s grace and character that we can combine with our own experiences for a more complete picture of who God is.
Being part of the family of God allows us opportunities to develop traits of God’s character in our own lives, giving us deeper insight into His love and grace toward us:
Scripture explains that each of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. We are to bear with one another and forgive if we have a grievance against anyone, even as the Lord has forgiven us. (; .)
“A machine may be perfect in all its parts, and yet there be much friction and wear in its movements; but apply oil, and it performs its work quietly and well. So with us. It is necessary to have the oil of grace in our hearts, in order to prevent the friction that may arise between us and those for whom we labor. Then, having not only the arguments of truth but the oil of grace, we can bear the message with power. Prejudice will be broken down, and a great work will be accomplished. . . .
“Those who are engaged in the great and solemn work of warning the world, should not only have an individual experience in the things of God, but they should cultivate love for one another, and should labor to be of one mind, of one judgment, to see eye to eye. The absence of this love greatly pleases our wily foe. He is the author of envy, jealousy, hatred, and dissension; and he rejoices to see these vile weeds choke out love, that tender plant of heavenly growth. . . .
“The reputation of a fellow-laborer is to be sacredly guarded. If one sees faults in another, he is not to magnify them before others, and make them grievous sins. They may be errors of judgment, that God will give divine grace to overcome. If He had seen that angels, who are perfect, would have done the work for the fallen race better than men, He would have committed it to them. But instead of this He sent the needed assistance by poor, weak, erring mortals, who, having like infirmities as their fellowmen, are best prepared to help them.”9
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (, ).
The religion that Christ showed us by example is a practical one. It doesn’t reside in books and bylaws so much as in active labor and servitude.
“The apostle showed that religion does not consist in rites and ceremonies, creeds and theories. If it did, the natural man could understand it by investigation, as he understands worldly things. Paul taught that religion is a practical, saving energy, a principle wholly from God, a personal experience of God’s renewing power upon the soul.”10
Humans are naturally petty. We count how many deeds we have performed for others to know how much they’re supposedly indebted to us. We keep mental records of the trespasses trespassed against us. Looking to ourselves, we spiral into thoughts of “Look how much I’ve done. Poor me. I have to do everything for everyone.” These thoughts only draw us further from Christ.
To truly know God, we must be like Him. Through His grace and Holy Spirit, we must serve our fellowman without consideration of what they do or do not deserve. We are to forgive without limit and help unwearyingly: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” ().
When we do this, we begin to understand God’s character. We attain a glimpse of His love for us and how He forgives and blesses us without measure, despite our unworthiness. This is a powerful way of truly knowing God in the here and now.
One time a boy was playing with his friends. They decided to play in another field, and while walking there, they came to a stream and had to cross it by going over a log. Everyone crossed to the other side except for that one boy. His friends called to him: “Come on, cross it!” But the boy refused to cross.
One of his friends came back over the log and offered his hand: “Hold my hand. I won’t let you fall.” Still, the boy wouldn’t budge.
At that moment, the boy’s father arrived and asked: “Why don’t you want to cross the river?”
“I’m scared, Dad,” said the boy.
The father held his hand and said: “Let’s go!” Holding his father’s hand, the boy crossed the stream without fear.
At some point over the next year, you may have to cross over a stream on an unsteady log. My brothers and sisters, knowing your heavenly Father will enable you to trust in His providence and enjoy peace in His care, despite the difficulties and trials ahead.
“Then let us not forget the mercies of God but let us preserve them as precious jewels. When the powers of darkness surround us, and whisper doubts as to God’s love and care for us, let us take confidence from the light that has been permitted to shine upon us in our life experience.”11
We don’t need to know all the details about the future; we only need to know God here and now. Then we, by faith, can hold His hand. He knows the future, and He won’t let us go.
“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” ().
Knowing God is not about learning a set of beliefs or rules. It is about understanding God’s great love revealed to us in Jesus Christ and thus developing a deeper connection with Him through spiritual practices. It is about keeping an open heart and mind to learn and recognize God’s presence in our lives and the world around us.
“The sum and substance of the whole matter of Christian grace and experience is contained in believing on Christ, in knowing God and His Son whom He hath sent. But here is where many fail, for they lack faith in God. Instead of desiring to be brought into fellowship with Christ in His self-denial and humiliation, they are ever seeking for the supremacy of self. . . . O if we did but appreciate the love of God, how our hearts would be expanded, our limited sympathies would be enlarged, and break away from the icy barriers of selfishness, and our comprehension would be deeper than it now is. . . .
“It is because we do not know God, we do not have faith in Christ, that we are not deeply impressed with the humiliation He endured in our behalf, that His abasement does not lead us to the humbling of self, to the exalting of Jesus.”12
Whether you are a seasoned spiritual believer or just beginning your journey, my prayer is that you come to know God here and now.
Following are some questions for interacting among the congregation during this Week of Prayer meeting:
1. Is it possible to find God?
2. How does God reveal Himself to us?
3. What are some blessings God has bestowed upon you this year, whether you deserved them or not?
4. How do relationships with others help us to know God more intimately?