If you had to describe the perfect friend, he or she would sound exactly like the Holy Spirit.
And yet, there's one big problem. The Holy Spirit doesn't speak to us audibly, like our other friends do. For humans accustomed to back-and-forth conversations, this can be frustrating.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, we see people like Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua having discussions with God, but in the New Testament, those two-way talks seem to stop after Pentecost.
What does this mean for single Christians like you and me? How can we develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit and rely on him for advice and strength?
Christians believe in a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son is Jesus Christ, but who is the Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is often symbolized as a dove, but that goes back to Jesus's baptism, when the Spirit descended on him "like a dove." Doves stand for peace and gentleness. But the Spirit is not a bird or any created thing. He is God.
Theologians say there are three distinct persons in the Trinity, but only one God. We have to accept that truth as a mystery, one of those faith-facts of Christianity the human mind is incapable of comprehending. We simply can't figure it out, no matter how hard we try.
Even though he's a distinct Person, the Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Spirit of God or the Spirit of Christ. When Jesus ascended to heaven in his glorified body, he sent the Holy Spirit to live inside every believer.
If you take a few minutes to think about that, it's both encouraging and scary. First, it means God knows about all our problems. Second, it means he sees all our sins. Nothing escapes him.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. He is responsible for that queasy feeling we get when we've done something wrong. He does that because God the Father wants us to confess, repent, and ask forgiveness. When we do that, we can move on with a lesson learned.
I sometimes forget about the encouraging nature of the Holy Spirit. He guarantees believers our salvation is assured. He reminds us we are adopted sons and daughters of God, joint-heirs with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven. Best of all, he floods us with the love of the Trinity.
Lloyd John Ogilvie calls the Holy Spirit the Greatest Counselor in the World:
No human counselor or therapist even comes close to those attributes. But how do you communicate with the Holy Spirit? The most reliable way is by reading the Bible. You don't have to worry that the advice is just your imagination. The Holy Spirit guides a sincere seeker to the relevant Bible passage then helps you understand and apply it to your situation. My experience has been that understanding is usually not instant. I have to meditate on God's Word for a while, then gradually enlightenment comes, but it does come.
When you pray, it may seem God is absent or silent, but the Holy Spirit is always present, and he takes your requests to God's throne. If your prayers are selfish or oppose Scripture, the Spirit adjusts them for your good. The Bible says if you don't know what to pray:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, ESV)
This is very important when you're confused or overwhelmed. This is the heart-prayer God loves to answer.
God is concerned about your heart. Listen to what Jesus said:
“If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you." (John 14:16, TLB)
Some translations use the word Helper, others Advocate or Counselor. I like Comforter. You and I need comfort. Life can be hard and disappointing for singles. The Holy Spirit gives you a hug when you need it. He reminds you that you're special to God. He helps you think of Jesus' powerful love for you on the cross and he promises you the joy of heaven.
Finally, the Holy Spirit is your faithful companion. He disproves your feeling that you're alone. He will never leave you, as the verse above says.
To know it's not just you against the world but God and you is a stunning fact. The most powerful Being in existence is on your side. He and his angels are fighting for you.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God approves of you and loves you passionately. He is a real presence in lonely times. He chose you, and he will never desert you.
In his book The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, Charles Stanley says:
The Holy Spirit's power cannot be harnessed. His power cannot be used to accomplish anything other than the Father's will. He is not a candy dispenser. He is not a vending machine. He is not a genie waiting for someone to rub his lamp the right way. He is holy God.
We receive the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit only when we have the right attitude toward him. He gives the orders and we obey. We do not dictate to or command God. Here's the key: When you surrender to God's will, his power flows through you, as an instrument of his choosing.
One of God's goals for Christians is sanctification, our ongoing growth in spiritual maturity to become more like Christ. We don't lose our personality to do that, but any bad habits that are contrary to the character of Jesus must be eliminated.
Being under the control of the Holy Spirit is not passivity. Just the opposite. When God works through us, we become emboldened, confident and strong to do things God's way. Our ego retreats. We give God credit. We become humble.
This is hard for many of us. We crave admiration and applause. Over time, I learned that the approval of people is insufficient, while God's approval is deeply satisfying. His secret support warms your soul. Nothing on earth compares to it. The Holy Spirit wants to give his approval to you too.