In our efforts to open our hearts, minds and spirits to God in our lives, one of the major obstacles is the image of God we have unknowingly created. Thomas Keating says, “The spiritual journey has a great difficulty in getting off to a good start if we are carrying a load of unexamined and unquestioned negative attitudes toward God.”[i]
No one is immune. We each create an image of God out of our childish experiences and also through the way we saw our authority figures in our lives. That is not God. That is the God they gave you. Most often the spiritual journey is about breaking away from that God into ever broadening experiences.
Jesus taught us to see God just as we see Him. He gives us a great tool and spiritual exercise that will aid us on our spiritual journey of knowing God for who He really is. Matthew 6:6,9 are parts of Jesus’ teaching about prayer, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you….Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’”
Praying is the spiritual discipline that leads you to a more authentic experience of God. You may learn how to pray by praying with others, but the best kind of praying happens behind closed doors. All that matters then is your heart and your God. God is in the secret place, God is in secret. Never pray as if you know what God thinks or feels. Pray to the God who is in secret. He is the God you want to know. He is the God who is real and mysterious and majestic and sovereign. He is more than your mind can conceive. But if you need to conceive Him, think of Him like your Father. Think of Him like a Father unlike the best father on earth. Think of Him as a Father who will reward what happens in secret.
Jesus gave us a great tool to increase our experience of God as He really is when He taught us to pray to “Our Fathe.r” Just those two words are packed with wonder about the God who is our Father. He is a Father who is in heaven. He is hallowed. His name is above all names.
The God they gave me is so far from the God I am coming to know. Though I am confident of the God I know, I know for sure that the God I know is not who God is. He is above my own knowledge and experience. He asks more of me than I could ever imagine. He wants me to give Him my whole heart and that is when I begin to understand Him.
Your spiritual journey of knowing God should make you more aware that He is more wonderful than you previously imagined and far beyond the goodness you could attribute to Him.