As we continue our discussion on
religious devotion, we begin with a scripture passage. In 2 Pet. 1:3 we read:
"His Divine Power has bestowed on us
everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge
of Him who called us by His own glory and power."
recognize from this text that authentic spiritual life and religious devotion
come through knowledge of God. True religious devotion involves an
element of driven desire to give oneself both entirely and particularly
to an activity, pursuit, cause or a person. This driven desire comes from deep,
profound experiences of God's Love in our lives. God's Love is what changes us,
and impels us to want to reorganize our priorities and re-order our lives.
God's profound presence transforms our hearts. The strong affection or
attachment associated with devotion comes from intense, tender touches of God's
Loving Presence. The psalm writer says:
" How precious is your love, O God!…We
feast on the rich food of your house; from your delightful stream you
give us drink. For with you is the fountain of life, and in your
light we see light"
psalm writer's language is passionate, and he uses vivid imagery to speak as one
who knows the Lord personally. Immersed in God's Love, we become
transformed into love…for the world! For, "God is love" (1 John 4:16).
How essential and foundational is
the reality of knowing God? In the Book of the Prophet Hosea, the Lord
says, "My people perish for want of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). Without this
direct, intimate, personal experience of God's presence, we can spiritually
"starve" to death. Hence, in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel we read of
Ezekiel's vision of the surface of the desert plain strewn with the dry bones
of God's people--symbolic of the spiritually "dehydrated", the spiritually
"famished", the spiritually despairing, the spiritually dead!
God desires to draw each of us into
the "drama" of his endearing Love. He wants each of us to be united with him in
true devotion. He calls us well beyond superficiality to substance and depth of
relationship--" a union perfect in the truth of love" (Dictionaryof
Biblical Theology, p. 298). God's Love is Covenant Love. It is relational
in nature. We come to know God by being drawn to Him by the most captivating
"bands of love" (Hosea 11:4). St. Paul calls this personal knowledge of
Jesus "the supreme good" (Phil. 3:8). This knowledge of God is not
first of all "head knowledge" of facts or details: It is not book knowledge.
Rather, it is heart knowledge--direct, personal, heart experience of
God--where God reveals himself to a soul personally, intimately, intensely, and
The psalm writer cries out, "Probe me,
God, know my heart" (Ps. 139:23). The word, probe, means 'to search or
penetrate'. The psalm writer willfully offers God the core of his inmost being.
The root meaning of the word, probe, is 'good, upright, virtuous'. In Ps. 25:8
we read, "Good and upright is the Lord". God wants us to be good,
upright, and virtuous. In fact, God wants us to be like him: "Be holy, for I,
the LORD, your God, am holy" (Lev. 19:2). We can't really be virtuous or holy
unless we have these direct and personal experiences of God. God desires us to
be like him and to be with him, and tojourney right into eternal life to be with him forever. For, according
to St. John, eternity involves a direct knowing of God:
eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one
whom you sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3).
heaven "we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).
"When it is understood in its full breadth, this knowledge of God can
rightly be called "communion" since it is a share in the same life of
God" (Dictionary of Biblical Theology, p. 298).
God is a surprising Lover of the human
heart. He surprises us by his presence and through these moments of 'felt
experience', he awakens awareness of himself in a heart--of how Loving, Good, and
Holy he is. He also lures the heart through these times of pronounced presence
into a deepening spiritual hunger and thirst for more of his tender touch.
Further, real deep and abiding faith is awakened through this direct,
profound experience of God that we call knowledge of God. St. John says,
"We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us" (1 John
4:16). This believing follows knowing. When God reveals himself directly
to us, "the eyes and ears" of our hearts are opened. Faith is a seeing, a
hearing and a knowing in the context of an intimate relationship with God: "May
the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope
that belongs to his call" (Eph. 1:18). In John 10:14 Jesus says, "I am the good
shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me". Faith is a
recognition of God, and hence a recognition of his voice, that grows through
direct, personal experience of his presence.
The true evidence of knowledge of
God (this direct personal experience of God) is love. Am I becoming more
loving--more like God? Are my thoughts more loving, my words and my actions
becoming more like those of Jesus?:
"This is the
way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to
abide in him ought to live just as he lived"
(1 John 5-6).
Paul tells us, "But if one loves God, one is known by him" (1 Cor. 8:3);
and St. John says, "Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God"
(1 John 4:7). Knowledge of God is the basis of all genuine friendship
What are some of the personal "revelations" that I have received from God in
prayer concerning either the Lord or myself?
How have these insights impacted (made a difference) in my life?