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Many Christians encourage people to "seek" God. Similarly, many Christians claim that God can be "found". I'm also well aware of the existence of many passages in the Bible that talk about the possibility of "seeking" and "finding" God (see for example https://dailyverses.net/seeking/niv/kjv).

In concrete and practical terms (for the lay reader):

  • What does it mean to "seek" God?
  • What does it mean to "find" God?
  • How can a person know for sure that they have finally "found" God after a long process of "seeking" Him (whatever that means)?

Given the controversial nature of spirituality questions, I'd like to narrow the scope to the Protestant perspective.


For those interested in the Catholic perspective: According to Catholicism, how should Christians "seek" and "find" God?

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    @NigelJ and moderators. I think this is a clear enough question, but may need some editing to encourage more objective answers on this site. For this purpose, I asked a meta question How do we ask spirituality questions. Oct 21, 2021 at 13:23
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    Common theme emerges from these non-denominational articles on "What Does it Mean to Seek God" from 4 well known websites: Christianity.com, Desiring God, gotquestions.org, Crosswalk. Oct 21, 2021 at 15:08
  • After writing my answer, it maybe better to scope this question for Protestantism and create other questions for other spiritual traditions: one for Pentecostal, another for Catholicism. To me Protestant, Pentecostal, and Catholicism spiritualities are quite distinct, so can serve naturally as 3 scopes. By doing that, maybe the community then can remove the 3 "Need more focus" VTC. Oct 21, 2021 at 16:13
  • @GratefulDisciple - done. Oct 21, 2021 at 16:18
  • Great. I didn't VTC nor downvote this Q, so nothing for me to retract. We'll see how they respond. Oct 21, 2021 at 16:21

2 Answers 2

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And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. [Jeremiah 29:13 KJV]

John Calvin says the following on the above text :

This then is the reason why the Prophet employs many words on this subject. By the word seek, he means prayers and supplications, as mentioned in the last verse. And Christ also, exhorting his disciples to pray, says, “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.” There is no doubt but that he speaks there of prayer; he yet adopted various modes of speaking, derived from the common habits of men. But to seek, when we feel the need of God’s grace, is nothing else than to pray. Hence the Prophet says, ye shall seek me and ye shall find me And though he addresses here the Israelites, yet this doctrine ought to be extended to the whole Church; for God testifies that he will be propitious to all who flee to him.

Calvin points out that Jesus re-iterates the words of Jeremiah when he says 'Seek and ye shall find'.

Jesus goes further and stresses that the seeking of God must be that above which all else is to be subservient.

'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness' he tells us, Matthew 6:13, KJV, and that even the thought of what one shall eat tomorrow is to be put out of the mind, that one may concentrate on what should be uppermost.

And we are not to seek our own righteousness, we are to seek God's kingdom and His Righteousness.

More could be said. Much more could be said. And more is said, sixty six whole books are given us (I speak of the Protestant canon, in context) which, summed up, are the seeking and finding of God himself.


As to the finding of God : the reward of finding God . . . is to find God.

I am thy shield and thine exceeding great reward [Genesis 15:1 KJV]

They who find God, know God.

That knowledge is experimental. It cannot be described.

It is to be experienced by every successful finder.

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A common theme emerges from these Protestant / Evangelical articles on "What Does it Mean to Seek God" from 4 well known sources: Christianity.com, Desiring God, gotquestions.org, Crosswalk.

My answer is based on those articles, primarily using John Piper's (Reformed) 2009 article What Does It Mean to Seek the Lord?

  1. WHAT are we seeking? God's presence, a common translation of the Hebrew word "face", thus

    Literally we are to seek his "face". .... To be before his face is to be in his presence.

  2. WHY seek if God is omnipresent? Is God 'lost' like seeking a coin or a sheep?

    • No, from God's point of view. Being omnipresent means: 1) he is always near, holds everything in being, and his power is sustaining and governing all things; 2) his keep his covenant commitment as in Matt 28:20: "Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
    • Yes, from our point of view:

      There are seasons when we become neglectful of God and give him no thought and do not put trust in him and we find him “unmanifested” — that is, unperceived as great and beautiful and valuable by the eyes of our hearts.

  3. HOW do we seek, practically?

    • Continually focus our mind's attention and our heart's affection on God (1 Chron 22:19, Col 3:1-2).
    • Conscious choice as opposed to mental coasting although the effort is a gift from God (2 Thess 3:5).
    • Calling / crying out, Isa 55:6, Job 8:5.
    • Pleading: "O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face."
  4. What are common PRACTICES to seek God?

    • Prayer
    • Worship
  5. What it MEANS to seek, practically?

    ... there is always something through which or around which we must go to meet him consciously. This going through or around is what seeking is. He is often hidden. Veiled. We must go through mediators and around obstacles.

    The heavens are telling the glory of God. So we can seek him through that. He reveals himself in his word. So we can seek him through that. He shows himself to us in the evidences of grace in other people. So we can seek him through that. The seeking is the conscious effort to get through the natural means to God himself — to constantly set our minds toward God in all our experiences, to direct our minds and hearts toward him through the means of his revelation. This is what seeking God means.

  6. What are some OBSTACLES for us to get around?

    • Spiritually dulling activities that block our way.
    • Pride. Ps 10:4: "In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him."
  7. How do we know that we have FOUND him?

    From the gotquestions.org article:

    A person’s face reveals much about his or her character and personality. We see the inward emotions of a person expressed outwardly on the face. We recognize a person by looking at his or her face. In a sense, one’s face represents the whole person. For the writers of the Bible, the human face could represent the entire person.

    From the above criteria we know we have "found" him when we have removed our blinders in perceiving God the way God can be objectively known by human beings, i.e. through a few things mentioned in the point # 5:

    • glory "in the heavens" (i.e. the cosmos)
    • his self-presentation in the Bible
    • other people's grace to us

    Note: the above articles are all Protestant / Evangelical. Catholicism adds a few more signs due to her spiritual theology's allowing more channels to perceive God through more types of experience (such as mysticism). But describing it will make this answer a lot longer. For a preview, see the table of contents of Allister McGrath's Christian Spirituality: An Introduction textbook.

  8. Does God ENCOURAGE us to seek him? Yes:

    • 2 Chron 7:14: "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."
    • Ps. 105:4: "Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him."
  9. Does God PROMISE himself to be "found"? Yes:

    • 1 Chron 28:9b: "If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."
    • Heb 11:6b: "Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him."
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  • And how do Christians know that they have finally "found" God? Oct 21, 2021 at 15:39
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator Within seconds of submitting the answer, I knew you are going to ask for this !! As if the answer is not suggested in the articles themselves, I had to make this explicit, and sorry to disappoint you that there is no "supernatural" phenomenon included in this answer. Upon reflection, my personal advice is for you to investigate Catholic spirituality. I think what you're searching can best be found within the Catholic tradition & practices. Oct 21, 2021 at 16:01
  • Depending on the answers to these questions: Q1, Q2, the range of options may extend beyond Catholic spirituality. Oct 21, 2021 at 16:13
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator AFAIK, IMHO, "Christian" groups answering both positively would be borderline heretical because Catholic spirituality is already taking Christian experience as far as orthodoxy allows. Using the Protestant Roger Olson's concept of centered set way of picturing orthodoxy (see picture here), those groups would be really far from the center, orthopathy-wise. Oct 21, 2021 at 16:30
  • According to that definition, is James Tour considered borderline heretical? Oct 21, 2021 at 16:33

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