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My Father Explains How to Experience the Holy Spirit

How to experience the Holy Spirit

There’s two unfortunate extremes in the Body of Christ.

Some urge us to experience the Holy Spirit — and say this means everyone should fall or laugh or speak in tongues.

Others rightly see that as a mistake.  But they make the opposite mistake — and never talk about how to experience the Holy Spirit.

What is the biblical experience of the Spirit?

It’s described in at least three ways —

  • as the living water of the Holy Spirit quenching our heart thirsts (John 7:37-39).
  • as God’s love being poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
  • as the Spirit shining into our hearts the light of God’s glory in Christ (2Cor 3:18; 4:6).

Notice that each of these are experiences.  They involve more than believing truth about God the Father and Jesus the Son.  They involve experiencing the reality of God the Father and Jesus the Son — something we actually feel.

These experiences are not the basis of our faith.  The basis of our faith is God’s Word — which is true whether we are enjoying these experiences or not (Psa 42:5).

But the New Testament promises that we can and will experience God the Father and Jesus the Son by the Spirit (John 4:13-14; 7:37-38) — and urges us to seek this experience of the Spirit (Eph 1:16-19; 3:17-19; 5:18).

How do we experience this work of the Spirit?

Here’s how my father (Daniel Fuller) explains it in his book “The Unity of the Bible,” pp.146f. (with my take-aways in bullet points) —

“In that the Holy Spirit is the very love the Father and the Son have for each other, the most benevolent thing God can do for us is to share this greatest of all joys.”

  • It is by the Holy Spirit that we receive a taste of the Father’s love for the Son, and the Son’s love for the Father.  This is the greatest of all joys — and God promises to share it with us.

“This unsurpassed blessing obviously could not be a reimbursement for some useful and valuable work we finite creatures do for the Almighty God.  Rather, it comes by faith alone, as we honor God by trusting him to keep our hearts satisfied in him.

“Therefore if we would have our hearts satisfied with the love and delight the Father and the Son have for each other, we should be careful to let the Spirit, who is resident in the hearts of those who have turned their lives over to Christ, keep us filled with all joy and peace as we trust God’s promises …”

  • When I trust all that God promises to be to me in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit will give me a taste of the actual love and delight the Father and Son have for each other.  The result is that I will be filled with all joy and peace.

“The way in which this good fight is to be waged is by ‘[taking] up the shield of faith, with which [we] can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Eph 6:16).  These arrows consists of all the various doubts Satan tries to lodge in our hearts to make us despair about the future and thus lose our joy.”

  • When my heart lacks joy and peace in Christ, that means Satan has successfully hit me with some doubt or fear or greed or worry — it means I have stopped trusting all that God promises to be to me in Christ Jesus.

“But all of [these flaming arrows] can be extinguished by claiming one or more of the many promises God has given us in the Bible.”

  • To fight the fight of faith I come to God as I am, trusting Jesus’ blood and righteousness to make me welcome (Luke 18:13-14).  I confess my unbelief and ask Him to strengthen my faith (Mark 9:24).  Then I set my heart on whatever promises deal with the doubts or fears or greeds or worries I am experiencing (2Pet 1:3-4).  And I pray over these promises until the Holy Spirit strengthens my faith and gives me a feeling-experience of living water, God’s love, and Jesus’ glory (Gal 3:5).

How have you experienced this?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to experience the Holy Spirit.  Feel free to leave a reply below — thanks.

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Category: The Work of the Spirit


15 Responses

  1. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    You are truly blessed having such a wise and God-experienced father, Steve!

    What shall I say then? Your Scriptures hit the nail on the head,
    this, of course, they always do,
    but yet this fact’s not really new.

    No, don’t be afraid – not another “poem”. 😀

    What touches me deeply, were you mentioning those two unfortunate extremes in Christianity. Since I experienced both, I realize that neither the so-called Toronto Blessing nor the pure Biblicism projects succeed in leading people to Christ, so that they – the latter ones – could experience grace upon grace through the Holy Spirit.

    However, I stop it now because I overcharged your blog yesterday.

    Shame on me, but honestly,
    I didn’t contrive to make such a dive.

    Oops, I did it again. Sorry, Steve!! 😉


    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks again for your thoughts, Susanne. And you are absolutely right — I have been RICHLY blessed through my father. It was a great kindness of God to give him to me. And to whom much is given, much is due …

  2. Your Brother in Christ says:

    I started to read the holy bible and this happened to me.

    The Holy Spirit was convicting me of my sin, as I was praying I wept with intense sorrow remorse, every time I sinned I offended God. I was so sorrowful for what I had done, and for the way I had treated other people in the past. I wept so much I was exhausted.

    God knows me, he knows my heart there is nothing I can hide from him.

    God change my heart.
    Now I am no longer selfish,
    I am no longer a lover of money.
    I am no longer a liar.
    I am no longer a con man and I am no longer a thief.

    I have stopped using people to my advantage.
    I am no longer spiteful towards others people.
    I am no longer sarcastic towards others.
    I am no longer rude towards others.

    I was praying on my hands and knees, and I started praying for people around me, imagine the power of a volcano irrupting. That’s what it felt like when the Holy Spirit penetrated my heart. For he wants me to love others, to love every person as much as I love my own family. This is the will of God. He wants me to be like that. And I love my family with all of my heart.

    Before, I never cared about people, only ever caring about my own needs, my greed and my wants.

    There are things I need to change in my life and I am working on them every day.

    I want to change; it is not me who can control this change in me. Only God can do it, only he can make me grow in faith and love.

    One time a person asked me: “I want to be an angel, how do I become one?” I answered: “Angels have one rule. In all your words, actions, behaviours towards others show love,
    we are angels, but we are lost, trying to get back home to heaven.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks, “Brother in Christ,” for stopping by and sharing your story.

      Sounds like God is powerfully working in your heart, and that you are being changed in significant ways. Beautiful.

      Keep pressing in to God through His Word and prayer. Keep your heart trusting Jesus alone to save you, guide you, and satisfy you.

      As we trust Him, His loving death completely pays for our guilt, His perfect life completely covers our sins, and His presence completely satisfies our hearts. What a Savior!

      May you be richly blessed in Christ,


  3. Brother in Christ says:

    Once before I never cared about people, after I had that experience with the holy spirit, I grow to love people, I love other people in a way I cannot find the words to explain, I have given up my life for others, that’s God will for me, I love Jesus more than anybody on earth.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience, brother in Christ. It is beautiful how the Spirit fills us with God’s love — and how this is all a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ. What a glorious Savior we have — and what love-filled lives we can live.

  4. Ed says:

    I was 16 going for a run after having gotten up early on a Saturday morning and met with an argument with my parents. I was kind of in a daze while running and I was pretty angry, sort of talking/praying to God in a way I guess. I was thinking something along the lines of “If this life isn’t pure BS, Please reveal yourself to me God… come down and show yourself” And I remained angry, kept on running, until I came upon this old white chapel at the top of a hill overlooking the ocean. I think the chapel was rarely used – only occasionally for weddings. So I started walking around the church and tried to get in but all the doors were locked. So i sort of just was overcome with emotion and was crying. It was a mixture of frustration and amazement, and the feeling of experiencing the holy spirit is something which no other worldly success achievment or false sense of goodness can fulfill. I had gone on a mission trip the year before but was apprehensive to love god as I felt the bible was outdated and no one had explained to me the divinity of Jesus Christ. (No one ever really did explain it to me, I still think of Jesus as the world’s greatest mystery). I don’t know what to think most of the time. This was only about two years ago.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Ed,

      Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like a powerful experience.

      I would encourage you to press in to see more and more of who Jesus Christ is as revealed in God’s Word. The Holy Spirit’s passion is to help us see and feel the glory of Jesus Christ — because it’s only in beholding Him that our hearts are fully satisfied.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. J says:

    When I first started out in my faith I only went to church. Then I joined a Sunday school class etc etc..,, then I met this friend who started talking to me on a daily basis about things she had read in scripture & I realized that I had nothing to say. But I would just listen to her & I thought I want a relationship like that with God! So, I started at the beginning of the bible. Line by line and then stop& take in what I had just read. By the 2nd week I was hooked! I wanted to know more about Him. Almost like wanting to see how a movie is going to end. Then I got to where all I wanted to do was read His word.

    I felt my first experience about after 2 weeks of reading scripture & talking to God regularly. Which, by the way, I started talking to Him more as I read scripture more& more. My father had to have a major operation done & they thought he would never walk again. I remember sitting in the chair all alone & after all the bad news the doctor had told me it was like it didn’t matter. I immediately felt calm . So much peace that I went to get a coffee & a Danish. I sat down & read my bible & as I prayed I felt more more more joy. I thought I must be in some sort of shock! It almost felt inappropriate to feel so much joy and peace during a time when we didn’t even know if he would survive the surgery and if he did, probably never walk again. But I couldn’t help my peace….. Well, dad survived the surgery! He did more than that, he was able to walk again too! To this day I remember that feeling.

    Sometimes when I’m in church singing I start crying or I feel these chills come over me. Like excitement! I know that I’m taking the Holy spirit in at that moment. Sometimes I will go into periods of constant praying for certain peopled or no reason. But my favorite , is when all of a sudden I have so much love in my heart I want to go out & do things or tell people loving things for just no reason.

    The downside to this is I’ve noticed for me anyway, if I go for a certain amount of time without reading my bible I loose the feeling:( or if I haven’t prayed. Then it’s like my mind starts saying things like” is He really real?” I start doubting Him. But as soon as I pick that bible up and start praying it all returns.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, J. I especially appreciate what you said at the end — that our experience of the Spirit is linked to our reading of God’s Word. I totally agree.

      Keep pressing on in trusting Jesus Christ. He is worth it all.

      Steve Fuller

    • AngAnnChye says:

      May our God rekindle the fire in J, let J experience more of You. Let the fire in J spread everywhere J goes, in Christ Jesus, Amen

  6. Holas says:

    I once had an encounter at a church camp that I still can’t un-explain to this day.
    Here is what happened.
    I was just standing in the back of the room during a worship service. I had seen this all before…. People crying and praying. Overindulging in each other’s contagious emotion. I saw it all as an emotional experience and I wasn’t buying it.

    Then, completely out of no where I felt something outside myself influence me. It was foreign, but felt amazing. I literally thought to myself, “is this what it feels like when people claim God talks to them?” I didn’t want to move. I felt like if I moved an inch I would Lose this otherworldly connection.
    Next, an overwhelming thought filled my mind. “Go talk to Sarah.” Is what was communicated clear as day.
    There was no subconscience reason I should talk to this girl from my youth group. But the unfamiliar, yet divine influence filling my head was… Awesome and for lack of a better word, Holy.

    All of a sudden my divine encounter was brutally interrupted by the pastor blaring over the sound
    system, “Go outside and meet with your youth group.” I was crushed. I felt like I would end up chalking up this … Encounter to a fluke emotional experience. But, at that very moment, I knew with every inch of my body that a pure spirit was among us. Maybe this was the Holy Spirit.

    I went outside. Our youth group met up and prayed together. I don’t recall much of what was said.

    As the prayer was ending I remembered once again that I was told to talk to Sarah. I opened my eyes and started looking around. I saw Sarah walking towards me and before I could say anything se said, “Nick, I feel like I’m really supposed to talk to you.”

    Mind blown.

    We talked. About a lot of stuff. The main message I remember that I felt like God was saying was, “I am all you need.”

    That was years ago. Only recently have I began to search for this same type of encounter. I have experienced physical manifestations from deep meditation, group meditations and the like.

    But those experiences are much different from what I have experienced as being in union with God. I literally feel physical manifestations when I pray sincerely mostly. Also when I read truth or praise God with music. Sometimes it feels like a tingle sensation, but I think it’s different for everyone. We all have different gifts of the spirit.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Holas,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds powerful.

      You might already know this, but I would encourage you to seek these encounters in the person of Jesus Christ as He is revealed in God’s Word.

      I’m encouraged by Gal 3:5, which says that God provides us with the Holy Spirit as we hear His Word with faith.

      So as you pray over the truth of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible, you will have times when God pours His Holy Spirit on you — so you SEE and FEEL the holiness, the glory, the very presence of Jesus Christ.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  7. Nathan says:

    This was really a great article! Really informative, and enjoyable.
    I am 15 and my first spiritual experience was not too long ago. At my youth group, my pastor had some people lined up so he could pray for them. I was also there waiting.
    I had always wanted to experience God, but never did, and I had been praying for months for a chance to.
    That night I was praying that the holy spirit fill me, and that this be the chance for me to experience it all.
    I felt a pressure on my chest, I started gasping for breath , and my body was filled with an undescribable, almost scary feeling. But I wasn’t scared, because I knew it was divine
    The next thing I knew, I woke up layedout on the ground. Somebody had woken me to see if I was ok.
    I didn’t remember it, but somebody had told that I had went down crying and bawling.
    It was an answer to my prayers, that God had answered. I had always believed in what I had heard, but now it’s a fact for me. And nobody can take that from me.
    God Bless.

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