That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened….(Ephesians 1:17-18 NKJV)
Ephesians 1 is the first Bible prayer I came across in college, praise God! I was reading through the book one day, and I was shocked that Paul actually wrote out two amazing prayers—Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 3.
Being young in the Lord, I was ecstatic because it gave me language for my prayer life and insight into things I could pray over myself. I thought, “If Paul prayed for it, surely it’s good for me to pray!”
Paul asked the Father of glory to give the Ephesian church the “spirit of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” The “knowledge of God” refers to the intimate experience of God’s heart as a real person. The “spirit of revelation” refers to the Holy Spirit’s work of bringing the human heart into the experience of God’s heart.
Essentially, Paul was praying for the church to experience God in tangible ways (because He’s a real person) and not just to understand mental ideas about God. In this prayer, Paul gives us apostolic insight into what we should be pursuing in our relationships with God.
What is an Encounter with Jesus?
It’s helpful to define what an encounter (experience) with God is so that we have a biblical vision for what God has made available to us.
In the Going Deeper Workbook, I define encounter as supernaturally perceiving a truth of God in our thoughts and emotions by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Encounter is when an idea becomes a living reality on the inside of us. It’s when an idea becomes a tangible experience, a living interaction with God as a person for a moment of time.
Related Post: “My Life-Changing Encounter with Jesus“
Encountering God is supernatural, experiential, and happens in different measures.
- Supernatural – Encounters with God are supernatural in the sense that they require the work of the Holy Spirit. He “opens the eyes of our understanding” with His light and reveals God’s heart to us. The natural mind cannot experience this by itself—it needs the present tense ministry of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-14). We are totally dependent on Him in this process, but we have the responsibility of positioning ourselves in front of Him in prayer, meditation, worship, loving obedience, and Bible study.
- Experiential – The Greek word for “knowledge of God” in the New Testament communicates a more intimate experience of God than just an intellectual understanding of an idea about God (Philippians 3:8; 2 Pet. 1:2-3; Col. 2:2-3). It’s knowing God relationally, not just knowing something about Him, though that is a good starting place. Encounters are experienced in our thoughts, emotions, and bodies, which is how God designed us. We are meant to experience God in tangible ways just like we experience love for and from our friends and family. He’s a real person, and experience is to be expected in real relationships. Ephesians 3:7-18 and Philippians 4:9 also communicate a realm of experience that goes beyond the realm of thoughts and human understanding.
May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; (Eph. 3:18-19 NKJV)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7 NKJV)
- Measures – God releases encounters at different levels. In the thought realm, we can experience God in the form of small impressions and captivated thoughts for seconds or minutes at a time. In the emotional realm, we can experience gentle, though real emotions from God, or intense moments where our emotions are completely overwhelmed with His love or His presence. Each area and all levels of experience are to be celebrated as from God.
God’s Life Imparted Through the Spirit of Revelation
It is critical that we move beyond being inspired by good truths and into the place of experience and reality in God. This is the place where God’s life is imparted to us.
I believe many Christians are frustrated by their lack of life and transformation in their relationship with Jesus because they have not entered into the place of intimacy and experiential truth.
They are inspired on Sundays and hopefully by their daily devotionals, but inspiration is only the first step to the more transformative encounters with God that are to be pursued. Therefore, they are cutting off God’s life source for them but stopping at inspiration, thinking that is all that’s available to them.
Using a food analogy, ideas about God without experiencing Him would be compared to looking at food without eating it. The food looks and smells good, but the real flavor and nutrition of the food is experienced when you eat it and digest it.
Your body can only be transformed and strengthened and satisfied by eating and experiencing the food. With God, we have to “eat” of His presence and experience Him in order to receive His life, be strengthened, satisfied, and transformed.
When intimacy with God grows, our emotions and longings become satisfied. Satisfied emotions and longings cause us to overflow to others in our lives rather than being angry, frustrated, or looking for wrong things to “fill us up.”
Intimacy with God satisfies but also transforms us. Lies, sin patterns, and negative emotions receive the renewing power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23) through little and big encounters with the Lord.
Encounters release divine light into our dark places which releases deliverance and healing.
Your freedom is rooted in experiencing the knowledge of God through the spirit of revelation. To paraphrase 2 Peter 1:3, God releases life and godliness (transformation) through the knowledge of God (the experience of God’s heart).
Spending Time with God
If you are wanting more of God, frustrated by your lack of transformation, and know that this teaching is directed towards your situation, the primary response is to spend quality time with God each day.
For many people, more quality time with God is necessary, so set aside more time to be with Him and watch God tenderize your heart over the next few weeks.
Set your heart to believe that tangible moments with Him (thoughts or emotions) are available each day, and be intentional to have real conversations with Him when you’re reading the Bible or in worship.
Your questions, comments, and insights are wanted! Please comment in the box below with whatever God is stirring in your heart pertaining to this blog topic.
For additional help, consider purchasing the Going Deeper Workbook (and optional video course) to go deeper in the revelation of the knowledge of God. Chapter 1 goes into greater depth on the spirit of revelation while the entire workbook is set up to form you in a lifestyle of experiencing God’s heart.
Additionally, you can join our Facebook Group, “Cultivate Encountering Jesus” for more support and direct encouragement. Search for this group on Facebook and we’ll grant permission to join the group.
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