Open To The Spirit: Book Review

I am excited to share my review of Open To The Spirit: God in Us, God with Us, God Transforming us by Scot M. McKnight.

Dr. Scot McKnight is a world-renowned speaker, writer, professor and equipper of the Church. He is a recognized authority on the historical Jesus, early Christianity, and the New Testament. His blog, Jesus Creed, is a leading Christian blog.

A sought after speaker, he has been interviewed on several radio and television programs as well as spoken at numerous local churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries in the United States and around the world. Scot McKnight is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society for New Testament Studies.

Learn more about Dr. Scot McKnight here.

(Please note that I received this book for free to review and this post may contain affiliate links.)

The book begins:

“This book will encourage you to be open to the Holy Spirit every moment of every day.”

“In the chapters that follow, we will explore more than a dozen biblical themes about the Holy Spirit. Each theme examines a dimension of what the Spirit can accomplish in our lives if we remain open to the Spirit’s work.”

Let me share nine key takeaways that I pulled from this wonderful book.

God Is Within

“The most passionate, the most intimate, and the most significant element of the Christian faith is that God—the creator of all and the world’s redeemer—has chosen not only to communicate with us but also has chosen to indwell us.”

“I sometimes marvel that the vastness and immensity of God could become an infant, then a child and a youth, and then a young man who would die and be raised for us. That same God takes up residence in you and me, not just once but permanently.”

God is within. Let me say that again. God is within. My gut tells me many people think of God as above or over there. While that is also true, God is within and that is a game changer. God loves us so much that the Spirit has taken residence in you and I. We get to tap into this wonderful, powerful and loving source. I find that very exciting!

God Transforms Us

“Let’s turn this around: we cannot find rest until we rest in God’s own resting in our hearts.”

“I hope you will pause with me to consider the immensity of the privilege we share, in that God indwells us in the Holy Spirit.”

“But don’t lose contact with the book’s seminal idea: God is alive and well and indwells us. And God wants to transform us into persons who demonstrate the grace, love, peace, and justice of God.”

We cannot take this divine indwelling lightly. We are indwelled by God to take action in this world. If we open to this inner spirit, we can let it lead us and prompt us to take the actions that we need and must take in our local communities and world. Be open to the inner transformation and let it also transform the world. Inner transformation and outer transformation need each other. They must work together.

Are You Open

“A sticking point when it comes to our understanding of the Holy Spirit is that humans are not open to the invasive, transcending, and transforming presence of the Holy Spirit.”

“We are built to be a home for the Spirit.”

“Here is an image to live by: if we leave the doors and windows of our lives open to the Spirit, we may find surprising flowers in our lives.”

“Each of us is designed by God to be receptive to the Spirit. We are Spirit-ual beings.”

Are you open? There are many ways to open to the inner spirit. We each must choose our own path. I have discovered that centering prayer opens me to the inner spirit. That is why I practice it twice per day. It is silent prayer: wordless prayer. I open to the presence and actions of God within. God prays in me the actions I need to take in the world.

Jesus’s Humanity

“Jesus was human and because Jesus was a human, he needed to be empowered from day one with and by the Holy Spirit.

“Jesus, as a human, did all that he did—living, eating, praying, conversing, healing, teaching, doing good, rebuking, defending—by the power of the Spirit.”

“Jesus was a Spirit-drenched man. Jesus did what he did because he was wide open to the Spirit, more open to the Spirit than any human in history.”

“To be a follower of Jesus is to be open to the same Spirit to whom Jesus was wide open.”

Jesus is the model for how we are to behave and operate in the world. Jesus was able to do what he did because he was wide open to the Spirit. Jesus often went off alone to pray. I would like to think he also practiced some form of silent, wordless prayer. These times in solitude prepared him for the actions he needed to take. Jesus drenched himself in the Spirit. We can drench ourselves in the Spirit too!


“Have you wondered if your total silence is the Spirit’s pure prayer on your behalf?”

“Are you open to the Spirit’s intercessions in your silence?”

I believe during silent prayer God prays in me the actions I am to take in this world. I also believe that during silent prayer the spirit within intercedes for me. I do not always know what to say and the spirit prays for me. I find this very comforting.

Gifts Of The Spirit

“Those who ignore or suppress the Spirit deprive themselves and others of God’s great gift.”

“The Spirit takes us beyond ourselves, taking what we have and making it better and taking what we don’t have and making it something.”

“If you are genuinely open to the Spirit, you will learn that you are open to a power unlike anything you’ve ever known.”

We have wonderful gifts within. Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish. I like to think I sit with God during my centering prayer practice and walk with God during my non silent times. We are never apart. It reminds me of a Matthew Fox quote from his book, Naming the Unnameable, “God is the unstoppable energy of all beings, a boundless source that cannot be slowed down or ultimately overcome.” We get to tap into this boundless energy!

The Body Of Christ

“When we become open to the Spirit, we receive an entirely new orientation in life. We switch from the old Ego to the New Ego. We become contributing members of the Body of Christ. We become other-oriented.”

“Paul wrote that God assigns a gift to each person “so that there should be no division in the body” and so that all the members “should have equal concern for each other.””

We are all the body of Christ. We each have a unique part to play. We are not alone in this world. We need each other. When we listen to the inner promptings of the spirit our actions naturally become other-oriented.

Divine Wildness

“Those who are open to the Spirit find freedom and discover a divine wildness.”

“The Spirit gives me the freedom to be the me God wants me to be, and the Spirit gives you the freedom to be the you that God wants you to be.”

‘Are you open to the wild freedom of the Spirit?”

This is why I practice centering prayer. Centering prayer opens me to the inner spirit. Centering prayer teaches me who I am. Centering prayer teaches me how to live. Centering prayer is a place I come from. The silence of centering prayer gives me the freedom to become my true self: who God wants me to be.

Next Steps

“I appeal to you: Is it not time for you to become more open, even wide open, to the Spirit? Is it not time for you to stand, sit, walk, march, and live in a perpetual state of openness to the Spirit? Is it not time to create a mind-set of asking yourself if you are open to the Sprit before and during everything you think, say, and do? Am I wide open to whatever the Spirit wants in this thought, this statement, and this action?”

Wonderful marching orders. They are fairly straight forward and do not need any explanation by me.

I encourage you to check out Open To The Spirit!


Books by Scot McKnight:

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited

The Blue Parakeet, 2nd Edition: Rethinking How You Read the Bible

Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others


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Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.

The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault: Jesus first and foremost is a Wisdom teacher, grounded in the universal traditions of spiritual transformation, and the first teacher of non-dual consciousness the West had ever seen. Almost two thousand years ahead of his time, he stands in the lineage of the great Jewish prophets, the master “cardiologist” entrusted with implementing the promise made to the prophet Ezekiel: “I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault: Centering Prayer is a simple, no-frills form of meditation in the Christian tradition. Since it was first developed by Christian contemplative monks in the 1970s, it has allowed tens of thousands of practitioners worldwide to “return home,” developing an authentically Christian meditation practice which not only delivers the healing and quieting of the mind typical of all meditation paths, but also reconnects directly to Christianity’s hidden treasury of mystical and transformational wisdom.

Drawing from the wisdom of monastic life, modern psychology and best practices in personal productivity, the Monk Manual provides a daily system that will help you find clarity, purpose, wisdom, and peace in the moments that make up your life.

3 thoughts on “Open To The Spirit: Book Review”

  1. Wonderful book review. I do not have enough time in my life to read every book that touches my soul. In my daily contemplative practice it is helpful to have this kind of summary. Helps Keep the awe of the Good One present in my silence. Kyrie Elieson. ##PBTGA

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