I personally believe that in order to understand what God is, we need first to understand what we're doing when we pray. When anyone prays what happens in the brain? The mind is doing something that it commonly does not do. It seeks information; the mind focuses on a path or journey to take.
What about atheists? Do atheists pray? Majority would say "no".
I did a search online for atheist prayers and I found a somewhat humourous t-shirt quote:
Our brains, which art in our heads, treasured be thy names. Thy reasoning come. The best you can do be done on earth as it is. Give us this day new insight to resolve conflicts and ease pain. And lead us not into supernatural explanations, deliver us from denial of logic. For thine is the kingdom of reason, and even though thy powers are limited, and you’re not always glorious, you are the best evolutionary adaptation we have for helping this earth now and forever and ever. So be it.
This does not really demonstrate what I'm trying to say but it hints at an interesting point. Prayer is a natural thing regardless if an atheist pokes fun at it or not. However, religious advocates assume that when they pray they actually pray to an external entity with a personality.
I once said that God is the ultimate ground of our existence, whether one believes in God or not, this still rings true.
Take for example the study of consciousness. When we open our eyes our mind receives new information ... information that we could swear was being created in front of our eyes. I'm not suggesting that we create the universe, nor that it materializes in our prescense. There is nothing physical about consciousness to start with! Consciousness is the ground of all being. Consciousness equals God.
Buddhism instructs that our ego or "self" is an illusion. That we are simply the by-product of the universe. The universe is us and we are the universe. This is not false. But, we are existing entities with matters of the mind. We interact with the world in the physical plane. What could we conclude about ourselves? Do we have free will?
If the reader bares with me up to now. You'll be rewarded to know that finally the answer is out. God is not a person nor a formless energy. God is you and you are God.
Thoughtfully, I would not eat my own words in the prescense of a Christian who would quote scriptures that point to how Satan said the very same thing. Sure, Satan said that "lie" about how once we ate from the tree then we will be like God. Sure, Christians say that atheists are self-worshipping heathens and they don't respect any higher authority so they hence sit on their own throne instead of putting God there. I do however take on that assumption and challenge the reader to think critically about this next point:
If you pray to a personal God, and you ask him for strength and you receive it, does that mean it came from above? Why do other religions like Islam and Judaism pray exactly like you do and still receive strength after a life-affirming prayer? Surely they don't have the same God as you. The reason why all faiths gather strength and comfort from prayer is simply because prayer is an personal message to the one entity that the person never speaks to on a regular basis - the self.
Shad Helmstetter in his 1990 book titled What to Say When You Talk to Your Self, addresses a very important point about the mind. Talking to yourself is theraputic. Helmstetter hosted seminars across the country with this idea of self-talk. He proves that self-esteem and spiritual growth are hidden within. The answer you seek will be answer you find, convincingly through your own vessel. Having one on one conversations with your self does not demonstrate insanity but intimacy with your identity. This brings us all to center.
It has been said that the ultimate purpose of life is to live with God and to be happy. Now you know why. The ultimate prescense and the ground of all being is to live at peace and at one with yourself. If one could create God in his own image like Christianity has clearly done exactly like all world religions, so one can create his own spirituality. This gaurantees completeness of the human soul.