Following Jesus is richer — and more alive! — when you sense God’s presence through the Holy Spirit. But how do you talk to the Holy Spirit? What do you say or do in response to His still small voice? How do you know if you’re actually communicating with the Holy Spirit, or if it’s your own thoughts?
In response to yesterday’s Your Purpose as a Child of God – Echoes of Dawn, an Echoer emailed and asked me, “How do I talk to the Holy Spirit?” I love this question, and am so glad she asked! Unfortunately, I don’t have a “one size fits all” answer, strategy, or tips for successfully communicating with the Holy Spirit.
I do, however, have lots of ideas. I also know what works for me right now, at this point in my life. I’ll share how I talk to the Holy Spirit, as well as a few insights from pastor Ken Shigematsu’s book Survival Guide for the Soul.
First, here’s a word from Jesus about the Holy Spirit, the Counselor: “If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17.
3 Simple Ways to Talk to the Holy Spirit
I say “Good Morning!” to the Holy Spirit every morning. I read the Bible, write to God in my journal, and try to praise Him more than pray to Him for stuff. I want my morning quiet time to be about Jesus and who He is, not what He’s done for me (or what I want Him to do for me). I practice listening and just becoming aware of God’s presence, instead of trying to communicate with the Holy Spirit.
1. I greet the Holy Spirit as a person every morning
“If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17. The ancient Greek word parakletos (Holy Spirit in English) can also be translated as Helper, Counselor, or Advocate. The Holy Spirit is a person who serves as a bridge between us and God. The Holy Spirit advocates, helps, strengthens, advises, defends, mediates, intercedes, comforts and consoles us. He tells the truth about who God is, where Jesus is leading, and how we should respond.
How do you see the Holy Spirit? I have a picture in my mind of what the Holy Spirit looks like. It took me years to realize she was the Holy Spirit — I just thought she was a figment of my imagination, a lovely Middle Eastern woman I conjured up to console, comfort, strengthen, help, advise and dance with me! I don’t actually pray to or worship this image of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t seek her out. She just appears in my mind sometimes, mostly when I’m singing worship songs at church. Maybe she’s a guardian angel, I don’t know, but she changed how I see the Holy Spirit, which helps me talk to Him. I see Him as a person now, not just an “it.”
2. I allow myself to feel unhinged, untethered, even terrified in God’s presence
“If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17. Communicating with the Holy Spirit is scary and even painful! It’s hard to hear the truth about God, yourself, others, and the world. Facing the truth about your sin, brokenness, failures and weaknesses will throw you into a pit of despair…unless you rely on the Holy Spirit to console, strengthen, inspire and encourage you.
How do you feel when you enter God’s presence? The first few times I truly felt like I was communicating with the Holy Spirit in the presence of God, I almost fell to my knees. I was walking in the forest every time I truly, deeply felt like I was communicating with Holy Spirit — and once I literally fell to my knees and prayed. God’s presence terrifies me. I felt like I was untethered from the world, from reality, from this earth…I was scared I was going crazy. But then I realized I had to become untethered from this world in order to be truly tethered to God. And so I let go. I let myself feel like I was having an emotional and mental breakdown. I leaned on the Holy Spirit and let Him carry me through the storm. And I survived to tell about it!
3. I listen to what the Holy Spirit says through my intuition, instincts, inclinations
“If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will bein you.” – John 14:15-17. Jesus said we know the Holy Spirit because He is in us and will be with us. No matter where we go or what we face, the Holy Spirit is closer than our own hearts, souls, spirits, minds. The Holy Spirit isn’t an external force to call down, or an “it” to be idolized. The Holy Spirit is a person who wants to talk to us, and is always available and active.
The Holy Spirit lives in you, so communicating with the Holy Spirit is like communicating with the deepest, wisest, most authentic part of yourself. The best way to talk to the Holy Spirit is to be silent, give Him time and space to speak, and write down what you think He is saying. I rarely hear voices in my head saying stuff like “Start blog called ‘Echoing Jesus’ and a newsletter called ‘Echoes of the Spirit’”! Rather, I feel a sense that I should do something, say something, go somewhere.
The Holy Spirit talks to us differently because we have unique relationships with God and Jesus Christ. One thing remains the same for all believers, though. Good, strong, healthy communication with the Holy Spirit is based on a long-term relationship. It takes time to build a good relationship. Time, effort, attention, honesty, consistency…and silence.
In Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve, Pastor Ken Shigematsu encourages Christians to meditate.
“The goal of meditation is to open our soul, mind, and body to the quiet work of the Holy Spirit so that we become more attentive to God’s movements within and around us,” writes Shigematsu. “Just as physically exercising for a day won’t make a difference in our health, meditating for a day won’t create any lasting changes for us. But if we incorporate meditation into the rhythm of our lives, it will transform our way of being in the world.”
How do you feel about talking to the Holy Spirit as a person? How have you seen or felt the Holy Spirit in your life? What do you want to ask the Holy Spirit? Your thoughts — big or little! — are welcome below.
“We must take time to be silent and to contemplate, especially those of us who live in big cities…where everything moves so fast…” said Mother Teresa. “I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks.”
With echoes of Jesus,
P.S. For more ideas on how to talk to the Holy Spirit, read 10 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship With the Holy Spirit.