Go Deeper in your Faith


Go deeper in your relationship with God.

One of my favorite book series is The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s about four children who travel to the magical land of Narnia and meet all sorts of creatures. The most important creature they meet is Aslan the lion; he is powerful, wise, and has authority over all the land. If you’ve read the series, you know that Aslan represents Jesus Christ.

In one scene, a little girl named Lucy is traveling through Narnia when she spots Aslan the lion.[1]
Lucy woke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine, with the feeling that the voice she liked the best in the world had been calling her name. She thought it was her Father’s voice, but that did not quite seem right…

She knew she was wide awake, wider than anyone usually is.… And then – oh, joy! For he was there: the huge lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.

[Lucy] “Aslan, Aslan! Dear, Aslan!”

[Aslan] “Welcome, child.”

[Lucy] “Aslan, you’re bigger.”

[Aslan] “That is because you are older, little one.”

[Lucy] “Not because you are?”

[Aslan] “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”


In this article, I’m going to teach you three stages of a growing relationship with God.

These three stages are not original with me. They were coined by someone in the 500’s AD.[1] These three stages describe the journey most believers go through as they grow in their relationship with God.

All of us want to be like Lucy – each time you encounter God, you want him to be “bigger.” As you walk with God, as you pray to God, as you learn about God, as you follow God, you want him to become a bigger part of your life. You want to grow in your faith, grow in your walk with God. You want your spiritual life to improve, to expand. You want your faith to go deeper.

But how on earth does someone do that? How exactly does one grow in faith? How can one go deeper in faith? How can I be more like Lucy, and watch God grow larger each time I’m with him?

Here’s how.

Stage One: Purification

This stage is about living a godly life. It’s like watering and weeding your faith.

For 1,500 years, this stage of the Christian life has been called purification. “[Purification] is the process by which one’s character is purified through confession of sin and a growing detachment from world values.”[2]

In this stage of faith, a Christian carries a watering can and gardening gloves. She is watering crops and pulling weeds. It’s exciting to see your faith grow! Your parents or friends are noticing a change in you, you are learning more and more about theology, and you see quick life change.

When I first became a Christian, it was like eating Miracle Grow. I came up with a Bible reading plan. I created a prayer list. I got rid of worldly influences and then I started surrounding myself with godly influences. I had a tiny faith, a young faith, so I grabbed the watering pail and a pair of gloves and went to work. I watering my faith, I pulled up weeds, I chased away birds – I was practicing purification. And as a result I was learning more, growing more, and like Lucy my God was growing bigger.

Here are some bible verses that describe purification:

Colossians 3:8 … rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Ephesians 4:22–23 … put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Psalm 1:1–2 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

You may be thinking: I want to grow in faith, I want God to be bigger in my life, I want to be like Lucy!
You may be wondering: How can I go deeper? What do I need to do?

You can go deeper in your walk with God. Practice purification with these two next steps:

Putting off sinful habits: addictions, lust, anger, your attitude... start chipping away at those sinful habits and hang-ups.

Practicing spiritual disciplines: three big ones are (1) Bible reading, (2) Prayer, and (3) Church attendance.

If you do these things, you will see instant growth in your walk with God. You will know that your faith in growing, you will feel closer to God, you will learn more about the Bible, and you will go deeper.

But... eventually you will hit a plateau. Your faith will stop growing.

If your walk with God consists of attending church, reading your bible each day, and putting off your old self – you will grow. But you will also plateau. Every day, you’ll grab your watering pail and start watering, but you’ll notice the plants only get so high; the fruit only grows so big. You’ll put on your gloves and pull weeds, but the next day it’s the same weeds. Your faith is on repeat and you aren’t growing deeper.

Stage Two: Illumination

This stage moves past godly living; now you are truly walking with the Lord.

If purification is like watering and weeding, this stage is like installing an irrigation system. Watering your plants is one thing. Installing an irrigation system is a whole other level. “Illumination is a deepening experience of the love, joy, and peace of God along with a growing desire to surrender to the will of God.”[3] In this stage, God gives you new desires. Godly habits have set in and this irrigation is transformative.

Here are some bible verses that describe illumination:

Galatians 5:22–23 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray continually…

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

You can go deeper in your walk with God. Practice illumination with these two next steps:

Christian Meditation: Instead of just reading scripture, meditate on it. Read it, then sit with it, chew on it, journal about it, and pray the words from the Bible back to God. Begin practicing spiritual disciplines like silence (set a timer for 3 minutes and just sit in silence listening for God to prompt you). Practice fasting or the Daily Office.

Unceasing Prayer: Instead of praying in the morning and saying “Amen,” continue praying throughout the whole day. At the end of a meeting, or at the end of a task, pause and pray. Reflect on what just happened. Pray for God’s guidance as you start your next task. Before you make any decision, even small ones, pause for five seconds and pray. If you do this, every moment will become a holy moment. Every decision is guided by the Holy Spirit, every conversation is intentional because you’ve asked God to speak through you, and every job is eternal because you’ve grounded yourself.

If you do this, and other spiritual disciplines like this, you will grow in your faith. You’ll move past watering and weeding, and your walk with God will thrive. You won’t just being “living a godly life,” you’ll actually be “walking with God.” You will begin to sense God’s presence, sense God’s leading, and hear God speak to you.

Stage 3: Union with God

Purification is good. Purification is growing your faith through “putting off” and “putting on." You are watering your faith. You are weeding out sinful practices. But walking around with a watering pail and weeding gloves is nothing compared to an aqueduct.

Illumination is better. Illumination is establishing habits in your life that makes walking with God become natural. You are truly walking with God – hearing from him and following his prompting. You are abiding in God, allowing Him to work, speak, and act through you. It’s like an irrigation system!

Watering and irrigating is great; but there’s nothing like rain. This stage of faith is a full realization of being in God and having God in you. There is little distinction between your character and the character of God. You demonstrate complete surrender to the presence and will of God. You aren’t just doing what God wants… God is speaking through you, working through you. “Union with God… involves complete interior surrender to the presence and will of God.”[4]

Here are some bible verses that describe union with God:

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Peter 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

John 17:22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.
I wish I could go into detail about this stage of walking with God, but alas, I have not arrived at this stage of faith.

Here’s how other believers have described it. 

Union with God is like placing a drop of water in a vat of wine. The water completely mixes with the wine and you can no longer distinguish the two. Furthermore, I’ve known people who don’t have a “prayer time” in the morning because they legitimately spend every waking moment in communication with God. This kind of relationship only happens after years and years of faithfully walking with the Lord. Years of living out your faith, years of developing spiritual habits.

A recent survey showed that nearly 2/3 of Christian are NOT happy with where they are spiritually.[5]
Is that you? 

You can go deeper in your walk with God. Here’s how.

Start with Watering and Weeding. Practice purification by putting off sinful habits and religiously practicing these three disciplines: Prayer every day, Bible reading every day, and church attendance every week.

Next, practice Christian and unceasing prayer. 

If you’ve been doing this and still want to grow deeper in your faith, schedule a meeting with a pastor or a spiritual director.


[1] CS Lewis, Prince Caspian, 148.

[2] Namely, Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite. “The aim of all Dionysius’ works is the union of the whole created order with God, which union is the final stage of a threefold process of purification, illumination, and perfection or union.” F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 488.

[3] Gary W. Moon and David G. Benner, Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls: A Guide to Christian Approaches and Practices (InterVarsity Press, 2009), 19.

[4] Moon and Benner, 19.

[5] Moon and Benner, Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls, 19.

[6] Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: A Barna Report Produced in Partnership with The Navigators (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress Publishing Group, 2015).