How Do You Experience G-d?

 

Although we’ve had a number of discussions on Ricochet about the damage that the Left is inflicting on those who are religious, we’ve seen very little about how people begin and nurture a religious life when there is so much disparagement by those who are secular. I also have been thinking that there are many people who are either atheist, agnostic, or who have no particular interest in having a relationship with religion, and with G-d in particular. I assume that they may be respectful (or not) toward those who believe in G-d, but the idea of pursuing or deepening their understanding of religion seems alien and not a helpful way to spend their time.

I’m not looking to motivate people to become religious if they are not inclined that way. The people I’ve been thinking about are those who, at some level, would like to have a relationship with G-d, but have all kinds of preconceptions about what that means in their lives. I’d also like to propose that their assumptions might be incorrect and make it difficult for them to find a relationship with G-d.

So, I’d like to propose that people from as many religions as possible share what it means to them to experience G-d. “Experience” is a broad and inclusive term, so you aren’t limited in describing your experience. You might describe prayers, particular prayers, meditation, rituals, holidays, study, music, and any other practice that allows you to sense or know that G-d is in your life. No one should try to judge your experience, because it is yours alone. This is not a competition to determine whether one practice is better or wiser than another. I encourage people to share experiences, as opposed to actively proselytizing; that approach has the risk of pushing people away. That doesn’t mean that if you experience Jesus as part of all of your practice, that you shouldn’t share it; on the contrary, that centrality might be important and precious to you.

To give you an example of the ways you might describe how you experience G-d, I’ll speak about myself.

First, I have a general sense of Presence most of my waking hours. It is subtle, but always there. G-d’s Presence is amplified when I hear sacred music—particularly Jewish songs, but even gospel music. I experience G-d in Torah study; I assume He wants me to learn from Him. I experience Him when I pray, especially when I pray in Hebrew; when I meditate in silence; and sometimes when I am with a loved one: I sometimes feel that G-d has blessed both of us and our time together. I recently saw the new grandchild of a friend; even on Zoom, that was a sacred moment. Finally, I often sense G-d when I’m outside when I’m walking; I think the silence around me, even when I listen to a podcast, is palpable. There are other moments as well, but that gives you an idea of what I’d love for you to share in your experience of G-d.

I also believe that G-d may show up without your seeking him, but the odds are not high. Some people have a profound experience in the beginning, but many of us have started in baby steps and seen the relationship mature. It can take time and attention.

The whole idea is for people to realize that one’s experience of G-d can be subtle or profound; connected to formal prayer and study or everyday life; alone or in worship.

* * * * *

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention practicing a specific religion or denomination. I think for many, the idea of connecting to a religion and its teachings is a daunting task. Don’t misunderstand: I think pursuing a relationship with G-d through a religious framework is a key component of a deep practice. I also believe it’s essential for the moral tenets it provides and a supportive community. I think that many people have a difficult time creating a moral framework that isn’t about personal preferences; those are the people who call themselves “spiritual.” I think that pursuing a relationship with G-d first, followed by an exploration of religion, is achievable by most people.

* * * * *

For those of us who believe that G-d is beyond time and always present and available, we only need to reach out to find Him. Feel free to share a single practice or several of them that you find especially helpful.

Would you share your experiences of G-d?

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    This will work.

     

     

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    This will work.

    youtube.com/watch?v=2t1gv1zeMkY

    Klavan is brilliant! And funny, too. Yes, his idea is good way to start. I’ll be interested to see if others have suggestions. Thanks, @percival.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    “… and if you atheist schmucks destroy civilization, I can’t get HBO.”

    • #3
  4. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Prayer is conversation with the Lord, and I keep the conversation going through the course of the day. We begin the day with prayer, my wife and I, and spend usually 2 hours a day in the Gebetsraum (prayer room) of the Gebetshaus (house of prayer) here in Augsburg. There is a power and a real presence of the Holy Spirit that is manifest there often. I’ve had visions, prophetic dreams, heard audible direction from God, and experienced supernatural healing. When I was born, and until I was 47, I had heart murmur caused by an atrio-ventricular septal defect  which was life-threatening when I was very young – elementary school age. Then a Swiss evangelist whom I had never met before called out that very illness in a healing meeting, laid hands on me in the name of Jesus, and I felt different. Since then I have had four doctors confirm that there is no defect anymore. And that is not the only time such healing has happened to me through the intercession of others. 

    And then there was the time God told me to walk out “that door right now” …onto a bus that put me in the city of Kiel, Germany right exactly when I needed to be there. The details on that one are rather wild. 

    It is funny you should mention this right now. I have just started a blog that will deal often with issues of faith. 

    You can find the  first entry here: A Reluctant Charismatic in Bavaria – martinfamilyinbavaria

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Prayer is conversation with the Lord, and I keep the conversation going through the course of the day. We begin the day with prayer, my wife and I, and spend usually 2 hours a day in the Gebetsraum (prayer room) of the Gebetshaus (house of prayer) here in Augsburg. There is a power and a real presence of the Holy Spirit that is manifest there often. I’ve had visions, prophetic dreams, heard audible direction from God, and experienced supernatural healing. When I was born, and until I was 47, I had heart murmur caused by an atrio-ventricular septal defect which was life-threatening when I was very young – elementary school age. Then a Swiss evangelist whom I had never met before called out that very illness in a healing meeting, laid hands on me in the name of Jesus, and I felt different. Since then I have had four doctors confirm that there is no defect anymore. And that is not the only time such healing has happened to me through the intercession of others.

    And then there was the time God told me to walk out “that door right now” …onto a bus that put me in the city of Kiel, Germany right exactly when I needed to be there. The details on that one are rather wild.

    It is funny you should mention this right now. I have just started a blog that will deal often with issues of faith.

    You can find the first entry here: A Reluctant Charismatic in Bavaria – martinfamilyinbavaria

    Thanks, Hartmann. You are so fortunate to have had some extraordinary experiences. When I practiced Buddhism, I heard of so many enlightenment experiences, large and small, and for a time was a bit envious. But then I discovered that those experiences can change people for the better–or not. My life has changed for the better in so many ways, that I only know gratitude now. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • #5
  6. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    Though I’m not an atheist or agnostic, I’d like a deeper faith. As to your question, I experience G-d through observation of nature, of people, of their ‘gifts & talents’. I understand enough of statistics and probabilities to realize that the odds/”chances” of all the flora, fauna and people just happening or evolving  without some Intelligent Design, some Prime Mover are just not possible. Like nearly everyone that sees or reads of evil deeds, or encounters an unfortunate soul with health problems, that natural tendency to ask ‘Where is  G-d?’ It is understandable. I think that’s more on us than Him. We have been given the Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule – that’s on us to live them. We were given free will.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on how blessed I am, how we all are walking in the Garden of Eden.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WI Con (View Comment):

    Though I’m not an atheist or agnostic, I’d like a deeper faith. As to your question, I experience G-d through observation of nature, of people, of their ‘gifts & talents’. I understand enough of statistics and probabilities to realize that the odds/”chances” of all the flora, fauna and people just happening or evolving without some Intelligent Design, some Prime Mover are not possible. Like I’m sure nearly everyone that when one sees or reads of evil deeds, encounters an unfortunate soul with health problems, that natural tendency to ask ‘Whe is G-d?’ Is understandable. I think that’s more on us than Him. We have been given the Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule – that’s on us to live them. We were given free will.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on how blessed I am, how we all are walking in the Garden of Eden.

     

    It sounds like you are most certainly “on the path,” @wicon. Regarding your comment on health problems, I think we all would like to believe that G-d would always choose to intervene to help us. But I’ve given up understanding the mind of G-d. Why did I get breast cancer? There’s no medical reason. But I also didn’t look to G-d to make it go away or cure it. Instead, I saw how quickly I am healing and had the blessing of many people wishing me well and offering their prayers. It’s all G-d, as far as I’m concerned.

    I enjoy walking with you in this Garden of Eden! Thanks!

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Start with reading the Bible and believing it if you can. Add obedience. Belief without obedience is dead. And add prayer.

    Not that all relevant experience is firsthand. That’s not how empiricism works. And it’s one of the reasons to believe what you read. We have others’ experiences to learn about. They are more important than mine or yours are likely ever to be.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    They are more important than mine or yours are likely ever to be.

    An insightful statement to make, St. A. There is so much to learn from the experiences of others. Thanks.

    • #9
  10. Heisenberg Member
    Heisenberg
    @Heisenberg

    I don’t necessarily want to hijack this post and take it in a weird direction with what some will see as a silly question, but – and I’m serious, not being flippant here:  Why do some people write G-d when you are having a serious discussion, about you know, God? It’s not like you dropped something heavy on your foot and you are avoiding blasphemy (if that even is the definition, a different issue).  Where does the notion come from that God wants you to never use his name and refer to him in some roundabout way, even in a theological, serious discussion?  He isn’t Cthulhu.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Heisenberg (View Comment):
    He isn’t Cthulhu.

    True! Seriously, @heisenberg, it’s not a silly question at all. Those of us who practice Judaism seriously are not permitted to write G-d’s name or speak it; technically, that’s in Hebrew. But Jews I know like to remind themselves of His holy name whenever we use it, however, we use it, so writing His name as G-d is a way to remind ourselves of His holiness. It’s not necessary, but it’s a way to communicate our belief to G-d and to others. Some people who aren’t Jewish have been using that spelling on the site; I don’t know if they do it for the same reasons or out of respect for Jews; I certainly don’t expect them to.

    Some Jews also use the name HaShem, which translates to “the name.” It’s for the same reasons.

    • #11
  12. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    WI Con (View Comment):
    Like nearly everyone that sees or reads of evil deeds, or encounters an unfortunate soul with health problems, that natural tendency to ask ‘Where is G-d?’ It is understandable. I think that’s more on us than Him.

    Why? How can we judge creation good or how can we judge if a benevolent intelligent designer exists?

    Our own Dr. Bastiat makes a compelling case for a Designer but I find the argument that the Intelligent designer is good extremely tenuous.

    Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Nature

    All of us are in part, the products of rape. Raping the members of weaker tribes is an effective way of spreading your genes. Rape is also common among insects and mammals. Nature is incredibly impressive but I see no indication of it being created by an entity that made Jesus or demanded that David repent for his adultery with Bathsheba.

    The goodness present throughout the lives of Jesus and Buddha and goodness as observed throughout history as well as our own lives seems to be alien to nature’s design.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    All of us are in part, the products of rape. Raping the members of weaker tribes is an effective way of spreading your genes. Rape is also common among insects and mammals. Nature is incredibly impressive but I see no indication of it being created by an entity that made Jesus or demanded that David repent for his adultery with Bathsheba. 

    I can’t let that one go, Henry. I am not a product of rape. If you go back far enough, there’s Adam and Eve, and there’s every reason to think their relationship was consensual. We are higher than the animals, too. If you think you are on the same level as an animal, I’m sorry. G-d blessed human beings with much more, including free will.

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Heisenberg (View Comment):
    He isn’t Cthulhu.

    You should not speak the name of the King in Yellow. Cthulu doesn’t care if you speak his name unless it is in a bad dream. Nyarlathotep also remembers if you speak his name as he is unusually interested in human affairs but thankfully, primitive  human throats aren’t capable of speaking his name.

    Cthulu was a perfectly serviceable Elder G-d but my favorite god was always Shub-Niggurath. It was a powerful and intelligent Goddess of fertility and power. You can gain power through breeding and you can breed through the power of Shub-Niggurath. She is not necessarily cruel and sometimes she is not even violent but mercy and compassion towards the other are completely alien and unimportant concepts to her.

    • #14
  15. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    All of us are in part, the products of rape. Raping the members of weaker tribes is an effective way of spreading your genes. Rape is also common among insects and mammals. Nature is incredibly impressive but I see no indication of it being created by an entity that made Jesus or demanded that David repent for his adultery with Bathsheba.

    I can’t let that one go, Henry. I am not a product of rape. If you go back far enough, there’s Adam and Eve, and there’s every reason to think their relationship was consensual. We are higher than the animals, too. If you think you are on the same level as an animal, I’m sorry. G-d blessed human beings with much more, including free will.

    We are a product of intelligent and cooperative apes that came out of Africa. Perhaps G-d made Adam and Eve as the first Jews and he made them perfect in a way we cannot imagine.  Somehow along the way, Jews interbred with the hominids that left Africa. Cain was the first one if I recall. 

    I agree that humans are on a higher level than animals but we are mostly apes. Whatever free will we have is limited by our genetics. 

    • #15
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Our own Dr. Bastiat makes a compelling case for a designer but I find the argument that the Intelligent designer is good extremely tenuous.

    That’s the standard problem of evil question. If there are good religious answers to it (and there are), those problems in nature don’t overrule an argument for a Designer–and they don’t make a good argument that the Designer is not good.

    • #16
  17. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Our own Dr. Bastiat makes a compelling case for a designer but I find the argument that the Intelligent designer is good extremely tenuous.

    That’s the standard problem of evil question. If there are good religious answers to it (and there are), those problems in nature don’t overrule an argument for a Designer–and they don’t make a good argument that the Designer is not good.

    Why? Didn’t the Designer make nature and isn’t nature uncaring thereby indicating the Designer is uncaring?

    • #17
  18. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Our own Dr. Bastiat makes a compelling case for a designer but I find the argument that the Intelligent designer is good extremely tenuous.

    That’s the standard problem of evil question. If there are good religious answers to it (and there are), those problems in nature don’t overrule an argument for a Designer–and they don’t make a good argument that the Designer is not good.

    Why? Didn’t the Designer make nature . . .

    Yes.

    . . . and isn’t nature uncaring . . .

    Largely so.

    . . . thereby indicating the Designer is uncaring?

    No.  G-d made me too, and if I’m a big jerk why would you blame G-d? G-d made sticks, and if I use them to hurt people why would you blame the sticks?

    • #18
  19. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    No. G-d made me too, and if I’m a big jerk why would you blame G-d? G-d made sticks, and if I use them to hurt people why would you blame the sticks?

    That isn’t the same as observing biology. Please address the anti-nature arguments that the cartoon makes. The entire system of evolution creates creatures that are pretty terrible. 

    • #19
  20. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    No. G-d made me too, and if I’m a big jerk why would you blame G-d? G-d made sticks, and if I use them to hurt people why would you blame the sticks?

    That isn’t the same as observing biology. Please address the anti-nature arguments that the cartoon makes. The entire system of evolution creates creatures that are pretty terrible.

    I did address them. It looks like you’re missing the point entirely.

    You (and the cartoon) are making a problem of evil challenge. You have something to address: the religious responses to the problem of evil.

    • #20
  21. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn: I’m not looking to motivate people to become religious if they are not inclined that way.

    Why not?

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not looking to motivate people to become religious if they are not inclined that way.

    Why not?

    Because I have been offended when people tried to push their religion on me–unsolicited by me. It was rude and condescending.

    • #22
  23. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Experience Him? I’m not sure I ever did, but IF I did, He revealed Himself to be a hard, demanding SoB. That’s one point in His favor. The other is that He keeps His word. 

    • #23
  24. Heisenberg Member
    Heisenberg
    @Heisenberg

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Heisenberg (View Comment):
    He isn’t Cthulhu.

    True! Seriously, @ heisenberg, it’s not a silly question at all. Those of us who practice Judaism seriously are not permitted to write G-d’s name or speak it; technically, that’s in Hebrew. But Jews I know like to remind themselves of His holy name whenever we use it, however, we use it, so writing His name as G-d is a way to remind ourselves of His holiness. It’s not necessary, but it’s a way to communicate our belief to G-d and to others. Some people who aren’t Jewish have been using that spelling on the site; I don’t know if they do it for the same reasons or out of respect for Jews; I certainly don’t expect them to.

    Some Jews also use the name HaShem, which translates to “the name.” It’s for the same reasons.

    Thank you Susan, this was helpful.  I learned something!

    • #24
  25. Heisenberg Member
    Heisenberg
    @Heisenberg

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Heisenberg (View Comment):
    He isn’t Cthulhu.

    You should not speak the name of the King in Yellow. Cthulu doesn’t care if you speak his name unless it is in a bad dream. Nyarlathotep also remembers if you speak his name as he is unusually interested in human affairs but thankfully, primitive human throats aren’t capable of speaking his name.

    Cthulu was a perfectly serviceable Elder G-d but my favorite god was always Shub-Niggurath. It was a powerful and intelligent Goddess of fertility and power. You can gain power through breeding and you can breed through the power of Shub-Niggurath. She is not necessarily cruel and sometimes she is not even violent but mercy and compassion towards the other are completely alien and unimportant concepts to her.

    Maybe this was tongue-in-cheek and I respect that.  Unlike Susan’s answer, this was not helpful.  I learned (almost) nothing.

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Django (View Comment):
    The other is that He keeps His word.

    @django, do you mind if I ask how you know this? Is it from the Bible or through your own experience?

    • #26
  27. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):
    The other is that He keeps His word.

    @ django, do you mind if I ask how you know this? Is it from the Bible or through your own experience?

    Personal experience. 

    • #27
  28. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Heisenberg (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Heisenberg (View Comment):
    He isn’t Cthulhu.

    You should not speak the name of the King in Yellow. Cthulu doesn’t care if you speak his name unless it is in a bad dream. Nyarlathotep also remembers if you speak his name as he is unusually interested in human affairs but thankfully, primitive human throats aren’t capable of speaking his name.

    Cthulu was a perfectly serviceable Elder G-d but my favorite god was always Shub-Niggurath. It was a powerful and intelligent Goddess of fertility and power. You can gain power through breeding and you can breed through the power of Shub-Niggurath. She is not necessarily cruel and sometimes she is not even violent but mercy and compassion towards the other are completely alien and unimportant concepts to her.

    Maybe this was tongue-in-cheek and I respect that. Unlike Susan’s answer, this was not helpful. I learned (almost) nothing.

    Unless you’re a fan of H. P. Lovecraft, it’s just amusing literary references for you to ignore.

    Oh, wait. You mentioned Cthlhu yourself first. Maybe these are literary references for you to enjoy.

    (I like HPL myself. Lots of fun.)

    • #28
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not looking to motivate people to become religious if they are not inclined that way.

    Why not?

    Because I have been offended when people tried to push their religion on me–unsolicited by me. It was rude and condescending.

    If doctors had been rude and condescending in trying to motivate you to better health, would you not try to motivate others?

    • #29
  30. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not looking to motivate people to become religious if they are not inclined that way.

    Why not?

    Because I have been offended when people tried to push their religion on me–unsolicited by me. It was rude and condescending.

    That is your answer to “Why do you not try to push your religion on people?” and “Why are you not rude and condescending to people?” but not to my question.

    • #30