Where is God when you pray? When I pray the Lord’s Prayer my unconscious mind imagines that God is, as the prayer says, “in heaven”, which I was told as a child is a long way from here and now. Further, this “in heaven” also produces a feeling of relational distance. God feels more like a judge than a loving parent. Prayer becomes a time, not to relax, but a time to be on my best behavior.
Jesus, who understands the unconscious mind since he shared our fallen humanity, tells stories that sow our inner darkness with seeds of truth, so we can believe God is close in both senses of the word. The father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son runs off his porch to greet his lost son and he leaves the party to seek his sullen son. The Good Shepherd searches for the lost sheep and brings it back home to the family.
We are saved by the Triune God before we are born. We become aware of this salvation and healing as the Spirit creates in us faith, that is belief and trust, not in ourselves, but in the faithfulness of God.
Each day I must re-imagine God’s closeness, so I start my praying with the fact of my union with God in Christ. When praying the Lord’s Prayer I spend a few moments, sometimes a few minutes, meditating on the first two words, “Our Father”. This helps to relocate me in the truth that God IS my Father and I am God’s adopted son, part of God’s universal family, no matter what my unconscious mind dredges up to make me think otherwise.
As I begin to trust that I am on the inside of God’s presence and affection, then prayer is a joy, not a duty. To rest in this joy is the Way into the truest living.