Spiritual Practice

Who is God?

Bob Roth

Ever had such a thoroughly lousy day that you wished you could spend some time talking to the one called Comforter? Or felt you were ready to unload on the one called Counselor? Ever had such a super day that you felt you should be thanking the one called Love?

Ask God Ftr TSP 115529155God of Many Names

Comforter (Isaiah 66:13), Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), and Love (1 John 4:8) are only three of the biblical names for God. What would it mean to you to have a relationship with your Maker (Psalm 95:6), Savior (1 Timothy 2:3), Shield (Proverbs 2:7), Light (Psalm 27:1), King (Psalm 97:1) or Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)?

These many images of God suggest that the nature of God is very complex. Through the ages, people have tried to describe God by naming the variety of ways that they have experienced God. If you could recall all the ways God has created you, loved you, and inspired you (though often you are not conscious that these things are happening), you may find that you, too, have more experiences of God than human names can express. Certainly no one names says it all!

Many Ways of Experiencing God

Body Prayer FTR TSP 149451254Years ago, I took a young woman to hear a guitarist on a college campus. The concert was beyond incredible. I was really blown away by the whole experience. As we left the auditorium and walked into the evening air, I spontaneously looked to the heavens and exclaimed, “Take me now, Lord. I’ve seen it ALL!”

Yes, that was the last date we had. However, I remember feeling that if our Creator could create such intricate, beautiful guitar music and someone who could actually play it, then God must be fully in charge. And I would go wherever the Lord called.

Around that same time, I remember hearing a folk singer, with his hand strumming madly across his guitar strings, singing, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.” God can also comfort us as a mother comforts her child (Isaiah 66:13).

When God took human form at Christmas, the occasion required a bunch of holy names: Wonderful, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Lord. In springtime, how do you picture the one who opens the blossoms and fills the wetlands?

Name Your Experience of God

Do any of these images of and names for God reflect your experience? Don’t let the long list overwhelm you. You don’t need to remember them all, understand them all, or experience them all. You are a part of the church—and the church all together can take it in! You are a small, yet tremendously important, part of a vast Body of Christ; and you will share some experiences of God in common with others.

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Of course, as you become more open to God, you may find yourself saying a new name, too! Try out a new name; it might broaden your—and our—understanding of God! The Hebrew word for Spirit is the same as the word for wind. Could this be the day for you to open up your sails a bit and let the holy wind blow you into a new place?

You can trust God. After all, some simply call God Love (1 John 4:8)!



Different names carry different feelings when they are said aloud. You say “President George Washington” differently than you say “Wally” or “Ashley.”

Say aloud the following names for God, and think about God’s characteristics as you say them:

  • Shield
  • Love
  • Shepherd

How would thinking of God in one of these ways affect the way you live your life?

Bob Roth is a pastor and writer in Michigan.

—from devozine (May/June 1998). Copyright © 1998 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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