As Christians, having a personal relationship with God is foundational to our faith. But what does it really mean to know God for yourself? How can we truly encounter Him beyond just knowing about Him?
The Bible has a lot to say about what it means to know God intimately. Through scripture, we learn that knowing God is not about having theoretical knowledge, but rather experiencing His presence and cultivating a deep, firsthand relationship with Him.
Here are some key takeaways on what the Bible teaches about knowing God for yourself:
- Knowing God requires seeking Him wholeheartedly and spending time in His presence
- God desires to make Himself known to those who diligently pursue Him
- The Holy Spirit teaches us and guides us into true knowledge of God
- Knowing God leads to obedience, spiritual transformation and bearing good fruit
- Intimacy with God is developed through prayer, worship, meditation on scripture, and listening to His voice
- Barriers like sin and distractions can hinder us from truly knowing God
- God wants to reveal Himself to all who draw near to Him and call upon His name
As we explore what the Bible says about knowing God intimately, may we be compelled to carve out time to encounter Him personally. There is no greater pursuit than deepening our relationship with our Creator.
Seeking God Wholeheartedly is Key to Knowing Him
The first key to knowing God is cultivating a heart that earnestly seeks after Him. Scripture tells us that if we seek the Lord with all our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). God promises to reveal Himself to those who sincerely desire to know Him.
Knowing God requires far more than just intellectual assent to biblical facts about Him. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for searching the scriptures but missing the main point – that the scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39). Head knowledge about God is useless unless it leads us into actual relationship with Him.
In Jeremiah 9:23-24, God explains that true knowledge of Him looks very different from worldly wisdom. The world boasts in riches, might and human wisdom. But God takes delight in people who “know Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth” (NKJV). Knowing God is not about excelling in academics or skill. It’s about living in reverence of Him through obedience.
If we want to move beyond theoretical knowledge into true encounter, we need to determination to know God above all else. The sons of Korah describe this earnest seeking after God in Psalm 42:1-2: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Do we thirst for God like this?
Knowing God requires cultivating an insatiable appetite for His presence. The reward is that “those who seek Him with all their heart will find Him.”
God Desires to Make Himself Known to Those Who Pursue Him
Fortunately, we serve a God who wants to be known. God does not conceal Himself from sincere seekers, but promises that “you will find Him if you search after Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
In Jeremiah 24:7, God declares “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” God takes the initiative to reveal Himself to His people and give them spiritual understanding.
Jesus assured us in Matthew 7:7 that if we ask, seek and knock, God will respond. Why would the God of the universe make time for us? Because knowing us brings Him joy.
In Exodus 33:12-17, Moses pleads with God not to keep him at a distance, but to allow Him to know Him intimately. God replies, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” God delights to make Himself known to His children. Centuries later, this promise remains true according to Hebrews 13:5: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Through Christ, we have even greater access to know the Father. Jesus prayed to the Father, “this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is not just about living forever in heaven, but beginning a relationship with God here and now.
Do we believe that God wants to be known by us? Then let us seek Him earnestly in faith, believing that He rewards those who diligently pursue Him (Hebrews 11:6).
The Holy Spirit Teaches Us and Guides Us Into Truth
A crucial part of knowing God comes through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). The Spirit guides believers into truth, convicts of sin, and helps us discern God’s voice.
In John 16:13, Jesus gave this promise about the Holy Spirit: “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” The Holy Spirit provides discernment so we can distinguish God’s voice from the voices of our flesh, the world or the enemy. As we submit to His leading, we grow in spiritual wisdom and intimacy with God.
The Holy Spirit also teaches us through scripture. In 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, Paul explains that “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God”. By illuminating scripture, the Spirit enables us to know the mind of Christ.
Walking in step with the Spirit is key to understanding deep spiritual truths. In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul notes “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Relying on worldly wisdom will never lead to true knowledge of God. We need the Spirit to open the eyes of our hearts.
As we yield to the Holy Spirit and saturate ourselves in scripture, He leads us into greater understanding of who God is and how He works. Remaining teachable and dependent on the Spirit’s guidance is crucial to knowing God intimately.
Knowing God Leads to Obedience and Transformation
While knowing God begins with seeking Him, it does not end there. True spiritual knowledge inevitably leads to obedience and transformation. As we get to know the Lord’s heart, our lives begin to align with His character and ways.
After declaring “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom”, Jeremiah 9:23-24 explains that true knowledge of God looks like justice, mercy and walking humbly with Him. Intimacy with God bears fruit in how we live. Knowing Him changes us from the inside out. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory”. The more we know God, the more we become like Him.
In Hosea 6:6, God declares “I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Sacrifices and religious rituals are worthless unless they flow out of a heart that knows the Lord. He wants us to know Him deeply through relationship, not rules.
Furthermore, Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments”. Obeying God’s commands demonstrates our love for Him. As we spend time with the Lord and understand His heart, saying no to sin becomes easier. We turn from sinful habits and seek righteousness because we know it pleases our Father.
The aim of discipleship is to know Christ and grow in obedience to Him (John 17:3, 2 Peter 1:2-9). Only through abiding in God’s presence are we transformed to think, speak and act more like Jesus. The fruit of knowing Him includes righteousness, peace, joy, love and kindness (Galatians 5:22-23). Our lives cannot remain unchanged when we truly encounter the Living God.
Developing Intimacy with God
We have covered the importance of seeking God wholeheartedly, His desire to reveal Himself to us, the Spirit’s role in guiding us into truth, and how knowing God bears fruit in our lives. But how exactly can we cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord? What spiritual practices help us draw nearer to Him?
First, we develop intimacy with God through time spent in His presence. Psalm 27:4 declares “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord”. There is no substitute for private worship and adoration of God.
Making prayer a lifestyle is also essential for knowing God. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “pray without ceasing”. Jesus modeled a life of continual communion with the Father, even withdrawing to desolate places to pray (Luke 5:16). Unceasing prayer keeps us aware of God’s presence throughout each day.
In addition, immersing ourselves in scripture leads to spiritual insight as the Holy Spirit enlightens God’s word to our hearts. The psalmist proclaimed “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Hiding scripture in our hearts protects us from sin and reminds us of God’s truth.
Listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice is another aspect of knowing God intimately. Jesus said “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). As we become familiar with God’s voice through time in His word, we learn to recognize His prompting and guidance.
The disciplines of solitude, prayer, scripture meditation and listening to the Spirit all develop greater intimacy with God. We come to know His heart, character and ways at deeper levels. This equips us to walk obediently as faithful disciples of Christ.
Barriers That Can Hinder Us from Knowing God
While God promises to reward those who earnestly seek Him, there are certain barriers that can hinder us from knowing Him more intimately. These include:
Sin: Willful disobedience creates separation between us and God. Isaiah 59:2 says “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you”. Tolerating sinful habits in our lives blocks deeper intimacy with God.
Distractions: Busyness, noise and technology overload can drown out God’s voice. We may be too preoccupied to carve out quiet time to meet with Him. Luke 10:38-42 contrasts Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet listening with Martha who was distracted by many tasks. Listening to Christ must be our priority.
Self-sufficiency: When we rely on our own wisdom and strength, we fail to depend on God. Revelation 3:17 warns about becoming so self-sufficient that we do not realize we are spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Pride and self-reliance hinders us from seeking the Lord.
Worldly thinking: Conforming to the world’s values distorts our knowledge of God. Romans 12:2 commands us not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Worldliness and knowing God do not mix.
Unbelief: Doubting that God desires to know us personally can lead us to settle for knowledge about Him rather than intimate relationship. He rewards those who draw near to Him in faith (Hebrews 11:6). Unbelief prevents us from seeking Him wholeheartedly.
In what ways are sin, distractions, pride, worldliness or unbelief obstructing you from knowing God more deeply? Bring these barriers to the Lord in repentance and faith. Ask Him to strengthen you in the practices of prayer, scripture reading, and listening, that you may know Him better.
God Wants to Reveal Himself to All Who Seek Him
Knowing God intimately is not just for “super saints”, but for everyone who thirsts for His presence. God promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that if you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. You do not have earn God’s presence or perform religious feats. He wants you to simply draw near to Him through spiritual disciplines, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
In James 4:2, we are told “you do not have because you do not ask”. Do you desire greater encounters with your Creator? Ask and it shall be given to you. Keep praying persistently until you connect with the heart of God in a fresh way.
God also wants to make Himself known to unbelievers seeking truth. Acts 17:27 explains that God desires “that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” By seeking God with sincerity, unbelievers can find the One who is readily available to be known.
No matter where you are at in your spiritual journey, God wants to meet with you personally. Jesus stands at the door and knocks, inviting anyone who hears to open the door so He can come in (Revelation 3:20). Will you carve out time to welcome Him in? The reward of seeking God wholeheartedly is that you will find Him. And there is no greater prize than knowing Christ.
Knowing God for yourself goes far beyond theology and religious tradition. It is a vibrant, intimate relationship that transforms how we live. Through seeking Him earnestly, we discover a God who truly wants to be known.
By spending time resting in His presence, soaked in scripture, dependent on the Spirit, we are guided into truth about who God really is. Encountering Him leads to bearing spiritual fruit and deep obedience flowing from love. As we yield our lives completely to Christ’s lordship, we begin to know Him in ever-increasing measure.
May this exploration of what the Bible teaches about knowing God spark a fresh passion in your heart to pursue Him relentlessly. Determine today to cut out anything hindering you from going hard after Him. The joy of living in genuine relationship with your Creator eclipses every other treasure. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). There is no greater adventure than knowing the living God.