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When I say I believe in God, I never know what people think that means. I am confident that God isn’t some human-like entity living in the sky watching over us. I also don’t think God determines every choice I make or is looking after me in a direct and personal way. I also don’t believe that God is a person, or even an entity in any way that we normally mean.

I also don’t mean that I am 100% certain God exists. I realize that faith comforts me and that I may be tricking myself because it makes me feel good. I also know that the consciousness is complex and can even create a faith experience that is entirely inside my own self. I don’t KNOW that God exists, yet I do believe that God exists as a choice.

I believe that God is one. I believe that God is beyond human comprehension and best described as a force or power that fills the Universe. My consciousness and self emerge in part because that Divine energy permeates and fills me. The existence of that Divine force, as MLK said, bends history towards justice. It is a force or energy that can inspire, heal, and connect.

God’s personal name in Hebrew is four letters – yud, hey, vav, hey. Those letters spell out the word “is” in a language that lacks a present tense form of the verb “to be.” God’s name is Is. God is existence, beingness, thingness. One outcome of this view is that God never does anything. Our actions and behaviors are separate from our identity. I may act one way one day and another on a different occasion. God, by contrast, just is.

That means God didn’t bring us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. That is a metaphor to describe an experience the Israelites had of the Divine motivating and orienting them towards redemption. Moses’ ability to connect with – and be inspired by – that Divine energy made him a conduit of redemption that allowed a Divine drama to unfold.

For me, prayer is a practice that allows me to orient towards the Divine. When I am attuned through prayer to God something changes in me, that opens up joy and creativity and healing. I feel more whole and more able to act from the deepest core of my being. Expressing my hopes and fears and worries to God lets all the ego-self barriers disappear and opens the core of my being to something greater.

When I ask for something in a prayer, I don’t mean that God will or should do it. I mean to express a heart yearning and a desire for that yearning to be seen and held by God. When that yearning reflects something in God, then it may find a pathway to being expressed in the world. Sometimes someone finds healing. Sometimes I figure out how to achieve that for which I pray. Other times, it is as if God says “no.” The yearning is still held lovingly, though. For me, the point of the prayer isn't to be answered. That would be magic. Rather, the point is to open my heart and self in the loving embrace that is God.

I am curious: how do you experience God? And if you don’t believe, where do you find comfort and purpose?

With love-

Rabbi David Booth


Tue, September 26 2023 11 Tishrei 5784