A.W. Tozer said, “what comes to our minds when we think of God is the most important thing about us.” This isn’t applicable for Christians only, but for everyone. What we think about God will govern our actions, our reactions, our decision-making, everything about us. In times of love, pain, violence, joy, and everything in between how we view God will determine how we approach him, or in effect, avoid him. No matter what you encounter, your view of God—whether accurate or inaccurate—governs what you do, say, and think.
I was sitting with a small group of friends last Tuesday night talking about prayer. It was clear that the level of our prayer lives was determined by the level of which we viewed God as all-approachable and accessible. They way we view God has a huge impact on how we pray. I began to identify several different personas that people project upon God.
Here are few of them and the implications of viewing God this way:
God as a Boss
Some people view God as their boss and themselves as an employee. Approaching God as a boss quickly turns the relationship into performance-based communication only. We all know how we relate to our bosses. They are the ones we are trying to please. They tell us what to do and we do it, sometimes reluctantly, but we don’t want to make the boss mad. In this view, God is reduced to the role of task-giver and manager. If we do good, the boss is happy and if we do bad, the boss is mad.
God as Dictator
Many operate their lives under the assumption that God is a dictator, and they want nothing to do with him. In this view, God is oppressive and he wants nothing more than to push us around and arrange us like his personal puzzle pieces. Dictators are only concerned with themselves so when we paint God as an angry dictator it’s no wonder people want to overthrow his authority.
God as the Great Wizard of Oz
Follow the yellow-brick road, and if you’re lucky you’ll come to the Wizard of Oz who has the ultimate power to zap you but he’s also the only option you have for getting home. Viewing God like this turns him into the cosmic critic in the sky and fear, and fear alone, becomes the sole motivator. Unlike a dictator who is to be avoided, the Great Oz is your only hope to get home. God does not want us to approach him in a fearful posture, but many do.
God as the oil change guy
If you want your engine to run effectively and efficiently, make sure you get your oil changed every three months. It’s routine maintenance and your engine won’t run properly if you don’t. Relating to God this way makes him impersonal and loosely connected to your real life, which is out on the open road. God is the pseudo-mechanic who you stop in with every three months just to make sure you’re able to life your life on your own in between check-ups.
God as a Genie in a bottle
You have a limited number of wishes, so choose what you ask for wisely. Approaching the genie-in-a-bottle-God happens only when you need something, or when you’re in a jam. Genies grant wishes, and that what prayer is all about for people who view God in this way. Prayers are wishes cast up into the heavenly realms disconnected from the reality of a God who desires so much more for his people.
God as an all-approachable and accessible Father
Whether you had a good father, a bad father, or no father at all you know what a good father should be like. All humans have a positive ideal of fatherhood by which we judge our fathers and others’ fathers. Viewing God as an all-approachable and accessible Father will guide and direct our worship, prayer, and our entire outlook on life. Adoption into God’s family is what happens through the Gospel, and we get a glimpse of it as the prodigal son falls into the outstretched arms of the Father (Luke 15:11-32). Viewing God as a Father makes all the difference! The problems we encounter in our lives are tied directly to the problems in our image of God, who he is, and what he’s like.
The devil is hard at work skewing and distorting our view of God. Deception and lies are his age-old weapons. He used them in the garden of Eden and he uses them today. He doesn’t want us viewing God as a Father, he doesn’t want us to consider the accessiblity of God and his approachable outstretched arms. God is our Father who wants to be with us and is inviting us into his family, let his truth guide how you approach God. It will change the way you pray, it will change the way you view others, it will change you in every way.
FUEL FOR THOUGHT…
Have you ever approached God in any of these distorted ways?
Take some time to consider your assumptions and beliefs in light of your prayer life. What you truly believe will determine how you function in prayer and worship.
photo credit: Jeremiah Bauer