Languaging God

Increasing the Awareness of His Presence

Armand Kruger, MA

Summary: how talking about God increased the awareness of His presence; how you talk about God help/hinders in how you become aware of Him. Experiencing God as a meta-state. Language is one way of being in God's likeness: the ability to create with words. The reality and risk of "creating" God with our words.

At the start of one of our business meetings (at IfM) three of us got to talk about God after our opening prayer. We were exploring Who He is, and his role in our lives and business. I was aware that this was not a mere talking "about" God, because we were all "reaching inside" when we were saying what we did about God. After a time my partner started to introduce "awe" as a theme for what were saying and thinking about God, and the rest of us just shifted into that theme as if it was "waiting" for us. Awe became the theme because we were saying "awe"-things long before the "descriptive state-word" gave a name to where we were at emotionally. The term brought to awareness and gave a name to what was already an experienced reality. This has happened once before when we were earnestly "seeking His face" in discussing Christian ways of doing business, as well as exploring and defining management/leadership theories.

Experiencing God:

Talking about God, about Who He is, "interfacing" with Him through trying to language His reality, seems to be one way of becoming more aware of His presence. Philip Yancey in his book "The Jesus I Never Knew" makes the point that God is always present, His "absence" is a quality of our experience, and who has not experienced a "dark night of the soul"?. Experiencing the awe towards God flowed from the language which we used, the words which points to, and the punctuation of our experience in this "interfacing" with God. Our words, and the semantics we used, created the particular awareness for, and then solidified the state, in which to experience knowing God in a certain way.

"The miracle of words" is the only way I can describe my experience. Why this "wow"-discovery after 4 years of neuro-semantics? I was struck with how in using words, frames and levels I can have this magnificent awareness about a reality which is independent of me and is a "frame-of-reference" which goes with certain linguistic qualifications.

Framing God:

God as a word is just another word. For a Christian to "seek the face of God" requires the use of the word with at least one essential feature, namely "+my". Indexing this personal relationship with God immediately frames the search for the presence of God as a personal and experiential process. Framing God as "my" God means that from that point on I will be seeking God in a very particular way: the frame points, punctuates and limits the kind of experiential process I will now undertake.

The personal relationship framed by "my" also refers to a set of standards about the fulfillment of this quest for "seeking". One of the higher standards would be translating any one of the attributes of God into the name of a personal experience. Examples are when attributes like a "loving God", a "righteous God", a "powerful God", etc. refers to a personal reference experience which will "stand for" the particular attribute. "Awe" as a resultant experience is a statement of a knowing about God which exceeds some existing conceptual boundary, and the involuntary gasp of "wonderful, marvelous" and the misnomer of "unbelievable".

Obey and then Experience God: meta-stating with the presence of God

Blackaby and King1 says "You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you". Obedience precedes experience! (John 14:15,24; 1John 2:3-6; Psalm 119: 33-35)

In a similar fashion our discussion followed the above: asking about God in the particular circumstances, seeking to interface with Him using the medium of languaging His will and attributes as relevant to us at that time, and then the emergent awareness of his presence.

This awareness of the realness and awesomeness of the presence of God definitively textured the "how" our meeting. In our discussions on focus and actions criteria words like love, usage of talent ("unique design") and time as guardians of God's gifts, enrichment, awareness of destiny, etc. became the terminology of choice. We were more tolerant and firm about "mutuality" and "fair fees" than I have experienced us in previous meetings.

My (AK) experience has been that in this meeting we were also meeting each other in a more "personally Christian" way (this with people who have intimately worked together for more than one year!). My experience of "we-ness" was within a frame-of-reference of Christian unity. "How marvelous, how wonderful...!".

As one would expect from such a beautiful state dependency, the rest of the meeting, which went over three hours, were in this same spirit. Which in it self taught me something about the attributes of state dependency, namely that this "magnetized/pulling" awareness was conducive to bring to bear more memory, and more content/knowledge, but not more "reality". We remembered more about God (scripture references) personal examples of "times when God......." but the state of awareness of the presence of God became a pervasive "sameness" for the duration of the meeting.

In the image of God: creating with words

Philip Yancey (1995) in his "The Jesus I never Knew" (Zondervan Publishers) pointed me to the writer Dorothy Sayers and her incredible "Mind of the Maker" (Harper San Francisco). Sayers argues that one way of thinking what it is to be like "in the image of God" is to be aware that we "create" with words the same way as God did! We do not create something from nothing, but the artist (who she uses as her model) follows the same mysteriously real trinitarian approach as is the existence of our Triune God. (p. 37ff).

After a weekend of teaching "Dragon Slaying" I was once again awestruck with how the delegates through guidance for state-texturing follow the "path of words" and reach the reality of an emerging gestalt state! The words as qualifiers and pointers bridges for them the starting place to the state desired .......and then they make it so! In hearing the words of the state induction/invitation they create the neuro-physiological emergent state.

The domain of neuro-semantics is how, with language, people create distinctions and make comparisons through the levels of meaning. The giftedness of self-reflexivity is powerful because of the ability to use words to create semantic realities as the basis for our distinctions and comparing the "realities" which we have created!

The theory of God

The semantic realities we create with our words takes on a reality/life of their own: "having said it makes it so". The more abstract we go into the realms of meaning, the loser it seems the ties to the complex equivalences which we use to identify our experiential realities with2. And this is where the unconscious frames-of-reference can shape the awareness of God and the selective attention to reading the Word of God about Himself. The meaning of God may supercede the reality of God to the point where people live in a relation with a god that exists only for them. This god can be punitive, accepting of sin in special circumstances, understanding of my lack of effort because I didn't feel good, etc. The semantic feature of the frame-of-reference (source experience) which people choose by which they will know God, becomes real since it is not updated, nor do people remember that "it is only words". The reality of God is languaged in a limited, but sufficient way in the Bible, but that means to know God is to know Him through both Testaments and as an emerging Gestalt: to obey God is to know Him, and to repeatedly experience Him afresh through His Word.


I think I can begin to understand why in some books on prayer the recommendation is that one starts one’s prayers in remembering the attributes of God before one goes to the more personal part of one’s prayer. It is as if one has to remember first Whom it is we are praying to, before we remember what we are pray for.

Ps 145:18  The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.


1. Blackaby, Henry T.; King, Claude V (1990): Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Lifeway Press, Nashville; p.146ff.

2. Kruger, Armand: "I love your criterial equivalences" NLP World, Vol 6, No 2, July 1999.

Contact information for Armand Kruger:

South Africa's Institute of Neuro - Semantics
Armand Kruger
PO Box 494
South Africa, 1960
Fax: 2716-362-1559

2001 Armand Kruger All rights reserved.