Ways to Grow Your Relationship With the Holy Spirit

by Diocese of Des Moines | May 6, 2024

Image of a dove in stain glass

Pentecost commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit over the Apostles and concludes our Easter season. As Pentecost nears, here are some ideas to help you grow in your relationship with the Holy Spirit!

Pray the Pentecost Novena

Prepare to celebrate Pentecost by praying this 9-day prayer. the novena includes a reflection, discussion questions, and prayer for each day. This year the novena for Pentecost begins on May 11th.

Download Novena

Invite the Holy Spirit into Your Heart

The Holy Spirit will not come where He is is not invited! Pray “Come Holy Spirit” many times a day – in good moments and bad - and have an ongoing conversation with Him throughout the day. (You’ll learn He does respond!)

Build the Habit of Reflection

To be aware of when the Holy Spirit is responding, you need to build a habit of reflection. Create physical and mental habits that best dispose you to hear & respond to the Holy Spirit. This might include exercise, getting enough sleep, maintaining a work/life balance, and making time for rest.

To hear the Holy Spirit, you also need to seek silence. Create healthy, family tech/media habits: go on a car ride without music or podcasts, schedule device-free quiet time, and keep phones away from the dinner table. Family dinners can be great place to for reflecting together, focusing on the highs & lows of the day and where you saw God moving.

For personal reflection, use your nighttime routine to think back over the experiences of your day. Look for the Spirit's presence and actions, and identify how you did or didn't respond. This reflection can be as simple as thinking to yourself while you're brushing your teeth or as in-depth as journaling. It's your relationship - find what works for you!

Get to Know Jesus

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." Colossians 1:15

Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God all make up the Trinity. To better understand one person of the Trinity, you will need to grow closer to each one! One way to grow closer to Jesus is by reading sacred scripture, especially the Gospels. You can do this individually or as a family, but at the end of each reading ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your hearts and guide you on how to act upon that message during the day.

We also come to know Jesus by spending time with Him in prayer. To build that relationship, make time for personal prayer every day! If you aren't used to praying daily, start small with what feels possible. Can you pray an Our Father when you get in the car before you go to work? While you're waiting for the microwave to heat up your lunch at work, can you offer that minute or two to Jesus to talk with him? We often make prayer feel impossible with our "all or nothing" attitude. You don't have to decide between no prayer or spending 5 hours in adoration a day! There is plenty of space in the in-between.

Receive the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation

The Sacraments are the ordinary means by which God gives us the gifts of His Spirit. Holy Communion is the nourishment we need for our spiritual journey, while reconciliation restores and strengthens our relationship with God by fine-tuning our consciences (where the Holy Spirit speaks), and supernaturally boosting our daily efforts to love.

Again, start with what feels possible! If you're not going to Mass weekly, make consistent attendance a priority! Do you only go to reconciliation during Lent? Increase it to going each "season" - once in the fall, winter, spring, and summer!

Find Your Spiritual Community

The Spirit calls individuals, but always within the context of a community. If you haven’t already, register at the parish you regularly attend. This will make it easier for the parish to invite you into the community and keep you informed about what's going on!

If you don’t have meaningfully relationships with members of your parish, find (or start) a small faith sharing group or ministry that fits your needs and gifts. You aren't the only person in the parish seeking community!

Finally, if you have close friends who are all wanting to grow in faith, start a small group or Bible study! The people who are closest to us have the ability to help us grow the most.

Practice Recognizing the Spirit in Daily Life

When you imagine recognizing the Holy Spirit, you might be thinking of giant mountaintop experiences - like Moses with the Ten Commandments or the dove descending on Jesus at his baptism - but the Holy Spirit often comes to us in very mundane moments.

It could be a theme that is repeated coincidentally in a day from different sources, a recurring thought that compels us to action, an idea that seemed to come out of nowhere, an inner certainty, or new insight. Sometimes the Spirit speaks “loudly” in an unmistakable way, but often, He whispers in a “still small voice.”

Learn the rules of thumb for discerning whether an inspiration is authentically from the Holy Spirit. Is it inclined towards goodness?  Does it “fit” your vocational calling? Does it produce a sense of peace? Does it inspire humble obedience to God’s plan? Does it ring true if shared with a spiritual mentor or a person of deep faith whom you trust?

If discerned to be an inspiration of the Holy Spirit, try to act promptly! The more we respond, the more sensitive we become to His movements within us.


The Holy Spirit does not enter where He is not invited. If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit you'll need to make space! Surrender the attitudes, behaviors, and attachments that hinder love to the Holy Spirit with trust. This is an ongoing process. Family can help us be self-aware!

Another way to surrender is to accept what’s beyond your control as somehow part of God’s plan. Seek to actively embrace even the challenging and painful times in life with trust in God’s goodness and love.

Discover Your Unique Call to Serve

Giving of ourselves to others can be both an expression that comes from a deep connection to the Holy Spirit and that leads to a deeper connection. Prayer and service support one another! Find ways to serve that stretch you, but fit your gifts. Programs like Called and Gifted can help you discern your gifts.

Learn More about the Holy Spirit

Finally, learn more about the Holy Spirit! Knowledge is one of the identified charisms of the Holy Spirit, because "knowing" can empower us to closer relationship and love.

There are hundreds of resources available to help you learn more about the Holy Spirit, but here is a short list to get you started!

The New Testament also has several scripture passages about the Holy Spirit:

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.