Knowing God can seem a daunting task; after all, He is God. That means He is vast, powerful and awesome, not to mention a little scary at times. Yet, He invites us into a relationship with Him as His children.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
And into a relationship as His friends:
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
How then do we go about knowing God? First, it’s important to know there isn’t a single way. A beautiful aspect of God is how He treats us all as individuals and interacts with each of us in a unique way. Second, we can learn principles for knowing God but don’t try to follow a formula. He is a relational God, and knowing Him is founded in a relationship.
Here are four principles that have helped me on my journey of knowing God.
1. Talk to Him
Talking to Him seems obvious, but it’s worth saying. God wants a relationship with you which means He wants to hear what you’re thinking. Yes, I know that He knows every word you say before you say it, but He still wants to listen to you say it.
When you talk, be honest, don’t put on a prayer voice or say things you think He wants to hear. Take your mask off, drop any pretence and be honest with Him. Are you frustrated? Then let Him know. Is today a good day? Tell Him that as well. Ask Him questions, talk of your hearts desires, involve Him in whatever you’re thinking. As you practice honesty and communication with Him, it’ll help you tremendously on your journey of knowing God.
2. Listen to Him
A significant key to knowing God is to listen to Him. Although I’ll admit, listening to God can be confusing, I kept thinking, how do I hear Him? Is God going to speak out loud to me? Is He going to send an angel to visit me?
I have never experienced either of those things, but I’m sure God speaks to me, but not in an audible voice. It’s probably better to say that God communicates with us. He does it by His word, through wise counsel, opportunities and what the bible calls our peace. An internal sense of His guiding and leading. There’s a beautiful story in the Old Testament that describes it like this,
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13
As I went on the journey of knowing God, these gentle whispers gave me an incredible insight into His character and what He cares about. So, as you get to know Him, pay attention to how He is communicating to you.
3. Study Him
As I encourage you to study God, I’m aware that there could be a tendency to view God as an abstract concept, something to understand and inspect. However, that is as far from what I mean as possible. Knowing God is about a personal relationship, initiated by a Father who loves you, revealed in His Son Jesus who is made known by the Holy Spirit. It’s not a theological concept but a world-changing revelation.
Having said that, we’re encouraged to study His word as it’s His word that reveals Him to us.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
When we study His word and meditate on it (see here for more on biblical meditation), we understand who He is and what He has done. The Glorify App has a tremendous devotional section that will help you in your journey of knowing God.
4. Community is critical in knowing God
When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He tells them to start the prayer like this;
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
Did you notice the first word that Jesus uses? “Our”. Jesus lets His disciples know that God is a Father to all of us. That means we are all one family, brothers and sisters in Christ. Following Jesus is never supposed to be an individual experience; we are supposed to be in a community. It’s in a community that we see God working in our everyday lives. We get to know Him as we live together, work together and serve Him together.