By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is one of the most valuable gifts you can receive. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, you can access God’s strength to help you in all circumstances. There’s no need to worry about trying to earn the Holy Spirit’s presence with you; it’s a pure gift. Nor do you need to follow any type of ritual or formula. All you need to do is ask God for it and receive it. Here’s how to receive the Holy Spirit, and how to build a close relationship with the Holy Spirit afterward.
What Does it Mean to Receive the Holy Spirit?
Receiving the Holy Spirit means inviting the Spirit into your soul. You do so as an act of faith. Choosing to receive the Holy Spirit is much more than a transaction; it’s a relationship. When you receive the Holy Spirit, you don’t do so separately from the other aspects of the Holy Trinity (God the Father and Jesus the Son), because they are united. You enter into a relationship with the living God – of whom the Holy Spirit is a part – when you receive the Holy Spirit.
When and How to Receive the Holy Spirit
You receive the Holy Spirit at the moment when you put your faith in Jesus Christ. As you pray to begin a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit enters your soul immediately. Ephesians 1:13-14 makes it clear that the Spirit comes to you at the moment of salvation: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” 1 Corinthians 12:13 says that the Holy Spirit baptizes all believers: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Everyone who has a relationship with Jesus also is connected to the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:9 reveals: “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”
So, all you need to do to receive the Holy Spirit is to say a prayer to place your trust in Jesus as your Savior. The Holy Spirit is a pure gift that God gives you simply by starting a relationship with him. Jesus makes it clear in Luke 11:13 that God is willing and ready to generously give the Holy Spirit to those who ask: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” You can be confident that God will give you the wonderful gift of his Spirit when you begin a relationship with him.
Next Steps after Receiving the Holy Spirit
After you know how to receive the Holy Spirit, you can connect with the Spirit personally. The Holy Spirit is more than just an impersonal force. The Spirit is a person who is a part of God, along with other aspects of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit). It’s important to learn more about the Holy Spirit’s work by reading about him in the Bible. The Spirit works in many different ways. Here are some highlights of his work. The Holy Spirit:
- Loves you (Romans 5:5)
- Cleanses you spiritually (1 Corinthians 6:11)
- Teaches you (John 14:26)
- Gives you spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-13)
- Helps you pray (Romans 8:26-27)
- Gives you hope (Romans 5:13)
- Strengthens and encourages you (Acts 9:31)
- Gives you joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
- Calls you to share God’s love with others (Matthew 28:19)
- Empowers you (Acts 1:8)
You can work with the Holy Spirit to pursue key qualities that God wants you to develop in your life. Those qualities are called the “fruit of the Spirit” and are listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”. My book Wake Up to Wonder features two chapters on how to develop each of those qualities, along with scientific research that shows the many well-being benefits associated with them. Specifically pursuing each of the fruit of the Spirit leads you to notice more of God’s wonder around you, which can inspire you to build a closer relationship with God each day.
When you communicate with the Holy Spirit regularly, you’ll keep growing spiritually. You can do so through prayer (talking to God) and meditation (listening to God). 2 Corinthians 3:17 declares: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” So, you can choose to communicate with the Holy Spirit in whatever ways work best for you. Feel free to let go of any pressure you may have felt in the past to pray or meditate in only certain ways. Don’t worry about following any formulas. When you pray, you don’t need to speak fancy words out loud; you can pray silently. You can pray in any creative way, such as by writing or singing your prayers. When you meditate, you don’t need to close your eyes or even sit still. You can meditate while walking, cooking, or some other task – as long as you’re focusing your mind on listening to God. The Holy Spirit is always present with you. You can reach out to the Spirit anytime and anywhere. Start prayer and meditation habits you enjoy, so you’ll communicate with the Holy Spirit often.
The more you connect with God’s Spirit, the more you’ll be inspired to follow where God leads you – away from sin, and closer to him. You will experience your life changing for the better as your soul becomes stronger, day by day. Enjoying a relationship with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process. Your relationship with God – which includes your relationship with his Spirit – is the most important relationship you will ever have, both during your earthly life and in heaven.
God freely gives his Holy Spirit to all believers. You can enjoy the blessing of the Spirit as soon as you begin a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Once you know how to receive the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that you need to do other than place your faith in Jesus. The Spirit will fill your soul when you’re saved. Afterward, the Spirit will work powerfully in your life as you welcome him to transform you. Enjoying a relationship with the Holy Spirit empowers you to develop the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – which are all qualities that help your soul grow stronger. The more you build a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the more you’ll discover about God and experience God’s blessings in your life.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/ThitareeSarmkasat
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter.