We are to so completely sense this [Divine Presence – a realization that there is a power which knows, cares and understands -] that the heart will respond and the emotions acquiesce. Without such an emotional agreement, words are empty and ideas void of real meaning.
(Ernest Holmes, The Bible in the Light of Religious Science, p. 27, 1929)
It is important to note that this realization isn’t an intellectual one – rather, it is a (seeming) perception. It is like seeing a sunrise, say – not something imagined, but experienced (although, obviously, one can also imagine a sunrise).
Much of religious debate involves empty words and ideas void of real meaning – without the experiences that go along with them, you are usually parroting words or speaking in abstract phraseology. It only really makes sense with the experiences that go along with them.
Which is to say, in order to communicate various ideas relevant to Christianity, the person you are communicating with really has to have the concordant experiences. Put another way, all the abstract words can’t really change someone’s heart, but an experience can.
This is why in Christianity it is important to figure out how to generate those experiences. In Christianity, the first step is usually having an open heart, the second asking God to enter or be present, and the third to do so in a state of ’emptiness’. It turns out that certain kinds of actions tend to lead to these experiences. Eventually, it seems this sort of process often leads to an experience of the ‘Divine Presence’.
It is only once that happens that much else in Christianity can start to make sense in a ‘real’ way, to use Holmes’ term.