My father did not teach me many Christian songs during his lifetime, but “I’ll Walk With God” is the rare few which left a deep impression in me. It is a popular aria from the musical The Student Prince, in which the title character performs it at the funeral of his grandfather, the king of Carlsburg. The song always brings back fond memories of my late father. The words remind me of what it means to walk with God and the importance of putting all my trust in Him. Is walking with God Biblical? Did anyone ever walked with God?
There are several people described as “walking with God” in the Bible, beginning with Enoch in Genesis 5:24. Noah is also described as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God (Genesis 6:9). Micah 6:8 gives us a glimpse into God’s desire for us: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Walking with God is not an activity reserved for a select few. God desires all of His children to walk with Him.
What happens when we walk with someone? Imagine that you and a close friend are enjoying a walk down a country lane. You are in close proximity. You talk, laugh, listen, and share your hearts. Your attention is focused on this person to the exclusion of almost everything else. You notice the beauty around you or an occasional distraction, but only to point it out to your companion. You share it together. You are in harmony, and you both enjoy the peaceful camaraderie.
Walking with God is like that. When we enter into an intimate heart relationship with God through faith in His Son (Hebrews 10:22), He becomes our heart’s greatest desire. Knowing Him, hearing His voice, sharing our hearts with Him, and seeking to please Him become our all-consuming focus. He becomes everything to us. Meeting with Him is not an activity reserved for Sunday morning. We live to fellowship with Him. St. Paul told the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17) and the Romans “to be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12). This is only possible when we walk with God.
Just as walking with a close friend requires saying “no” to many other things, so walking with God requires letting go of anything that would be a distraction. If we were on a walk with a friend, but we brought a kazoo and played it the whole time, the walk would not be satisfying for either of us. Many Christians attempt to walk with God, but they bring along kazoo-like habits, sins, worldly entertainments, or unhealthy relationships. They know these things are not God’s choice for them, but they pretend everything is fine. The relationship is not satisfying to either of them. To walk with God means that you and God are in agreement about your life. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). To walk with God means we have aligned our will with His and seek every day to consider ourselves “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). We don’t have to be perfect, as none of us are (Romans 3:10). But our heart’s desire is to be pleasing to God, and we should be willing to let His Spirit conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).
When the Bible speaks of “walking,” it often refers to a lifestyle. We can walk in the ways of the world as well (2 Kings 8:27; Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 3:7). In the New Testament, walking with God is often called “walking in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:4). To walk with God means we choose to glorify Him in every way we can, regardless of personal cost. And there is a cost. Walking with God also means we cannot also walk with evil people as companions (Psalm 1:1-3). We choose the narrow road over the broad way to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). We don’t live to please our sinful flesh (Romans 13:14). We seek to eliminate from our lives everything that does not enhance our walk with Him (Hebrews 12:2). We apply 1 Corinthians 10:31 literally: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” God’s ways are reflected in our thoughts, our actions, our motivations, and our life choices because we spend so much time with Him.
It is not difficult to identify people who walk with God. Their lives are a stark contrast to the world around them, like stars in a nighttime sky (Philippians 2:15). They produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) rather than the fruit of fleshly desire (Galatians 5:19-21). In Acts 4:13 Peter and John had been arrested for preaching and were brought before the authorities. “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” When we walk with God every day, the world cannot help but recognize that, in spite of our imperfections and lack of knowledge in some areas, we have been with Jesus.
Here’s the song “I’ll Walk With God” from The Student Prince: