What is my concept of God?
What is my concept of God, a foundational question as I write the first in a series of postings on prayer.To develop an effective prayer life, I must have a spiritually healthy concept of God. My concept of God defines how I think of him, how he works, how he views the world, and how he views me. Although this consideration of my concept of God interweaves with belief—the topic of the next post—it precedes belief in the true God. If I catch glimpses of his true nature, I more easily and naturally believe, accept, and pray to him rather than a false or silly concept of God.
Why pray to a concept of God that I can’t believe in because it is just like a man, just bigger and older?
A concept of God that defines him a merely superman, superwoman, an old man in the sky, the mother of nature, or a modified Santa Claus makes prayer irrelevant. Time and space do not bind the true God as the creator of time and space. He exists outside my dimension. What I can see, touch, hear, and measure limits by what I sense within and bound by my dimension. Reading Flatland by Edwin Abbott helps me see the difficulties involved when a three dimensional being attempts to communicate with a two dimensional man.
From 1 John 1:5 I know that God is light. There is no darkness in him. From 1 John 4:8-16, I know he is love and loves me. In John 4:24, I know he is spirit. From 1 John 4:12, I know that he is unseen, although for a short time he was born into the world as a man and walked among us. So God is light, spirit, love, and unseen.
Why pray to a concept of God that is mechanistic and distant?
Some people believe in a mechanistic, distant force. It is hard to pray to something that is far away. But God is not distant. I know from Acts 17:27-28 and 1 John 3:24 that he is very near, very close, and very intimate. So God is very near.
Why pray to a concept of God that doesn’t care about people?
John 3:16 should set make it very clear that he cares a great deal for people.
Why pray to a concept of God that doesn’t care about me?
If my concept of God is clouded by this lie, the best way to get to know God and have a healthy concept of him is talk and walk with him through the book of John. As I read and pray and ask him to show himself to me, so that my concept becomes more like his reality, I will experience that God does care about me personally.
Concept of God Always Limited
Unfortunately I am stuck with a limited concept even when I know some true things about God. I can never fully understand him as the two dimensional cannot understand the three dimensional in Flatland. My concept of God must be balanced with mystery so that I accept this limitation. The wonderful thing though, is that I can have a relationship with God, and he wants to be in relationship with me. I am not bound by the limitations of my concept of God. If I meditate on the truths that I know about him when I pray, accept his mystery, accept his love, and love him with all my heart, mind, and spirit, then I have the healthiest concept of God possible in which I can frame my prayers.
So, God is light, spirit, love, unseen, unlimited by time and space, cares about all people, cares about me, and wants to be in relationship with me. Now that is a God I can pray to because that is a God that is able to hear and answer prayers. God cares about me. He wants to be in relationship with me. Prayer is one of the ways that I communicate my love to him and learn that as in Hebrews 11:6, ‘he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’
A Concept of God for Believers
The healthiest concept of God for believers can be found in Psalm 103.
103:1 By David.Praise the Lord, O my soul!
With all that is within me, praise his holy name!
103:2 Praise the Lord, O my soul!
Do not forget all his kind deeds!
103:3 He is the one who forgives all your sins,
who heals all your diseases,
103:4 who delivers your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with his loyal love and compassion,
103:5 who satisfies your life with good things,
so your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.
103:6 The Lord does what is fair,
and executes justice for all the oppressed.
103:7 The Lord revealed his faithful acts to Moses,
his deeds to the Israelites.
103:8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful;
he is patient and demonstrates great loyal love.
103:9 He does not always accuse,
and does not stay angry.
What Do I Deserve?
103:10 He does not deal with us as our sins deserve;
he does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve.
103:11 For as the skies are high above the earth,
so his loyal love towers 16 over his faithful followers.
103:12 As far as the eastern horizon 18 is from the west,
so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us.
103:13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on his faithful followers.
103:14 For he knows what we are made of;
he realizes we are made of clay.
103:15 A person’s life is like grass.
Like a flower in the field it flourishes,
103:16 but when the hot wind blows by, it disappears,
and one can no longer even spot the place where it once grew.
103:17 But the Lord continually shows loyal love to his faithful followers,
and is faithful to their descendants,
103:18 to those who keep his covenant,
who are careful to obey his commands.
103:19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven;
his kingdom extends over everything.
103:20 Praise the Lord, you angels of his,
you powerful warriors who carry out his decrees
and obey his orders!
103:21 Praise the Lord, all you warriors of his,
you servants of his who carry out his desires!
103:22 Praise the Lord, all that he has made,
in all the regions of his kingdom!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
Anna learns to have a healthier concept of God as she talks with Jesus in Food in God’s Place. Reading God’s Word and studying his nature and reflecting upon my concept of him will improve my prayer life. With him, it isn’t a concept, it’s a relationship.
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