How to receive the Holy Spirit

Recently, we wrote a blog post on what the Holy Spirit isTo follow up on that, we want to explore why you’re not being filled with the Holy Spirit. Many Christians wonder how to receive the Holy Spirit.

My parents raised me Christian. I went through nursery school at the Church, I went through communion at 11, then confirmation at 13 and regularly went to church on most Sundays through my teens.

And I always felt like I had good values. People constantly told me that I was different, in a positive way, from the way most other people were.

But despite being a good person and living what I thought was a Christian lifestyle, I cannot remember ever having a strong experience where I felt I was being filled by the Holy Spirit.

What was holding me back?

1. Not being filled with God’s Word

The most obvious thing I can look back on after being truly saved is that I was never actually reading the Bible.

I was the type of person that if I was asked a question about the Bible, I didn’t even know how to respond. Who wrote the Bible? What was actually in there? I was a Sunday, not a Monday-Saturday type of Christian.

Maybe it’s not the cool thing to do in today’s culture to read the Bible, but it doesn’t make it any less of the truth. When you read the Word, you begin to realize that it’s a reflection of who you really are. Beyond the common misconceptions and stereotypes, everything that was written in there is still incredibly relevant today. God’s Word is timeless.

That’s part of the reason Mighty Pursuit was created, to bring attention back to God’s Word in the digital age, while we live in an increasingly broken and divided world.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

Plenty of damage has been done over the past century by people who claim to be Christian. They self-identify with that word, but they don’t live and breathe the Word. If you wonder how to receive the Holy Spirit, it starts here.

It’s not always going to be easy, it takes hard work to become a true Christian rooted in faith. Your faith is developed by reading the Word. It’s like a muscle you’re trying to build.

It’s not about memorizing verses, but taking tangible, practical steps to adopt what’s in there and make it the center of your world. If you do that, the Spirit will come.

One of the most interpretable versions of the Bible is the English Standard Study Bible which has notes that help you understand context.

2. Lack of Personal Relationship with God

You may or may not believe in Jesus Christ, but how is your relationship with Him?

In the Catholic Church, this concept is pretty foreign. But so much of personal growth in faith and access to the Holy Spirit comes by developing a personal relationship with God.

For me, I wasn’t truly seeking Him, making Him apart of my daily life. I wasn’t speaking to Him through prayer.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

Seeking God means dwelling on Him throughout the day, realizing the work He’s doing in every aspect of your life and being in constant prayer. If you’re pursuing Christ, you won’t be wondering anymore how to receive the Holy Spirit.

Prayer doesn’t have to be this complicated, formal process that sometimes made out to be. All you have to do is open your mouth and speak to God. While your driving in the car, while you’re making dinner.

He is always there with you. Judah Smith of Churchome spoke more of this in a recent sermon.

3. You still want to be in the driver’s seat

So much of culture reinforces the concept of control and power. Not only do we want to control our own lives, but we sometimes want to control other people’s and the situations that are around us.

Control is appealing because it gives a false sense of security that we’re safe. We theoretically determine our circumstances. This was such a huge problem in my life for a long time.

I needed certainty, that whatever I feared deep down wouldn’t happen. It showed up in my relationships, my finances, my workplace — it showed up everywhere.

Control is such a deeply rooted concept that we have triggers and reactions to situations that are second nature we don’t even think twice. To truly unravel this, it requires hard work and a tremendous amount of self-awareness.

Recently, I lost my job for the first time. I’ve been out of college for 7 years and it was a constant theme that I feared not being good enough, that I’d be found out. So I’d have strategically crafted conversations, I’d hold myself in a certain way in order to feel in control and get assurance that nothing that I perceived to be bad would ever happen.

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. (Luke 22:42)

Right before Jesus went to the cross, he cried out to God as Man, knowing what was about to come. But he said “your will be done”. What does that mean?

That we should always live according to God’s Will. And that means relinquishing control to every aspect of your lives. Stop trying to fit a square through a round hole. If you’re wondering how to receive the Holy Spirit, deny yourself and take up your cross.

Through this storm, losing my job, everything I always feared, I’ve never been better. The Holy Spirit has taken complete control and I’ve become a man on a mission. If God wanted me to have that job, I would. While we’re the ones actually taking the steps, God leads us.

Once we realize this — accept it, embrace it, the Holy Spirit will start to become ever-present.

4. Are you faithful through trials?

What type of believer are you? When everything is smooth sailing, are you in the front row, singing “Praise God!”

What happens when things go wrong? Or maybe you’re not sure if you believe in anything at all and you question how God could let anything bad happen in the world.

Being a Christian has never meant that you won’t go through tough times, that bad things won’t happen to you. It has always been about letting Christ and the Holy Spirit change you from inside out, so that when you encounter those situations, you can rely on God’s peace, strength and joy.

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (Matthew 8:23-27)

When Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, a furious storm came and rocked the boat. The disciples became increasingly afraid that they were going to drown. And they lost faith, even while Our Savior himself was in physical form on the boat.

The day I lost my job, the voices of self-defeat came calling. You’re not good enough, they say. You’re never going to get back up on your feet. You got let go, so you must suck. How could you possibly pay for anything right now?

They drill up feelings of anger, anxiety and sadness. So I have the choice to let those lies consume me or I can be faithful.

I can preach to myself. God will make a way. He always does. God is in control. When my time comes to pass, it will. Be patient and wait for Him. And I don’t preach to myself out of a sense of false security, but out of genuine faith.

If you’re in a storm, accept it. Stop wishing it away. There’s always a lesson to be learned, there’s something God wants you to hear. If we can all be faithful through trials, the Spirit will drum up strong within us.  

5. Whose values do you have – God’s or the worlds?

What does it mean to be a “good person” these days? When we find someone that’s actually genuine, we marvel at them. We say, can you believe how genuine they were? Because sadly, it’s so rare to find.

The world has taught us to get ours, at all costs. Media promotes the concept of love and acceptance of all people, but do we really see that on a practical day-to-day basis in our lives?

It’s become acceptable to gossip, to ignore those in need and to judge those that don’t look or speak like us. This has gone up to even the most powerful groups of people in our country, where hate is promoted.

We’ve lost our sense of meaningful relationship. It’s commonplace now for millennials to have numerous sexual relationships before they end up getting married. Tinder has completely shattered the concept of intimacy.

It’s almost expected now, to hear how your buddy banged one out after a night in the club and it’s seen as an accomplishment.

What does this have to do with the Holy Spirit?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

The Bible speaks extensively on the world, whether it was then or now and not being conformed to it. This goes back to the original point of always be in God’s Word.

When the world tells us something, renew your mind with the Word of God.

Take the steps to go above and beyond to love people, to be patient, kind, faithful and gentle, in all situations. The more you realize how much greater what God is offering up, rather than the world, the more you’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit.