Three Tips for Cultivating Spiritual Receptivity

The fifth chapter of A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God is titled “The Universal Presence.” In it, Tozer talks about cultivating a sense of that presence. Here are three tips taken from that chapter.

1. Don’t Think in Terms of Space and Place

God is everywhere already. To draw near to God is never a matter of physical distance. To ask God to visit you is not to ask Him to move from one place to another. It’s really asking Him to awaken you.

It’s not that God is distant, it’s that we are oblivious. The change we need is in ourselves, not in God.

As Tozer wrote, “It is for increasing degrees of awareness that we pray, for a more perfect consciousness of the divine Presence. We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”

2. Don’t Say You’re Not That Kind of Christian

Don’t excuse yourself by thinking you’re not spiritually inclined. Nobody is, at first. That’s why God gives us the gift of faith and new birth.

Spiritual receptivity comes with the gift of salvation. However faint it may be at first, it’s there, and it will grow if cultivated.

It’s not a matter of personality type. It doesn’t depend on your temperament. Your experience doesn’t have to match someone else’s.

To make this point, Tozer listed some names from history to show how different were the people that God has used. The only thing they all had in common was that God used them:

“Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well known Christians of post-Biblical times. You will be struck instantly with the fact that the saints were not alike. Sometimes the unlikenesses were so great as to be positively glaring. How different for example was Moses from Isaiah; how different was Elijah from David; how unlike each other were John and Paul, St. Francis and Luther, Finney and Thomas à Kempis. The differences are as wide as human life itself: differences of race, nationality, education, temperament, habit and personal qualities. Yet they all walked, each in his day, upon a high road of spiritual living far above the common way.”

3. Respond, Respond, Respond

After listing these examples of vastly different men, Tozer said this:

“Their differences must have been incidental and in the eyes of God of no significance. In some vital quality they must have been alike. What was it?

“I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response.”

That difference, again, is that “when they felt the inward longing they did something about it.”

They responded to the interior call of God, even in the smallest ways at first. They did something about it over and over again until their spiritual awareness “became the biggest thing in their lives.”

That spiritual awareness will look different for each person, just as gifts, callings, and personalities are different.

“Receptivity is not a single thing,” wrote Tozer, “it is a compound rather, a blending of several elements within the soul. It is an affinity for, a bent toward, a sympathetic response to, a desire to have. From this it may be gathered that it can be present in degrees, that we may have little or more or less, depending upon the individual. It may be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and irresistible force which comes upon us as a seizure from above. It is a gift of God, indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if it is to realize the purpose for which it was given.”


NEXT: Has Everybody Heard the Speaking Voice?


This Post is Part of a Chapter-by-Chapter Look at A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God

  1. This Voice from the Past is Still Calling for the Seekers
  2. The Larger the Heart, the Less It Holds
  3. God Tore Down His Veil, We Protect Ours
  4. We Walk by Faith Not by Sight, Not by Imagination
  5. Three Tips for Cultivating Spiritual Receptivity
  6. Has Everybody Heard the Speaking Voice?
  7. Seeking a Practical Definition of Faith
  8. Victorious Spiritual Experience Summed Up in Three Words
  9. Laying Down the Burden of Self
  10. Learning to See All of Life as Worship