Given that God hasn't knocked on any of our front doors and said, "Hi, I'm God, nice to meet you," the truth is that we don't encounter God in the same way that we usually encounter human beings. Some would rush to say that we "meet" God in the Bible. Though I understand what people mean when they say that, I don't believe that's accurate. I do believe the Bible is the story of several thousand years worth of people's encounter with God, and while it can tell us quite a bit about what other people living in a certain period in history thought about God, it doesn't constitute an encounter with God any more than reading a biography of President Kennedy means that when I have finished I will have met him. The same could be said for Jesus.
An interesting part of the Buddhist-Christian monastic dialogue is that Christian monastics and Buddhist monks report the same experiences in contemplative prayer for the Christians and meditation for the Buddhists. For those who don't know, what Christians call contemplation and what Buddhists call meditation is essentially the same thing - sitting in silence. As you might have guessed, what Christians call meditation and what Buddhists call contemplation is also the same thing - pondering great truths in prayer. It must be said, however, that with Buddhism having come to the west and more Christian monks studying Buddhism it can be harder to know what a Christian means when she says "meditation."
If the Christian monastic tends to call what she encounters in prayer "God" and the Buddhist calls it something else (perhaps "emptiness") but their experiences are largely the same, isn't getting caught up what name is applied a huge exercise in missing the point? I believe it is exactly that, and that insisting we all use the same language can have disastrous consequences. In fact it has caused wars and genocide throughout history, one side having decided the other is heretical simply because we are labeling our common experience differently! Can we get over ourselves, already?
We can broaden the discussion even further when we learn that every major historical religion has encouraged spending time in the silence and every major historical religion has arrived at the same foundational values of love, compassion, non-violence, sexual responsibility and peace making. There is great diversity in how those values are expressed, in the names applied to spiritual experience, and in rules around worship and other rituals, but what comes forth is the same. Does that not seem to indicate that these common values spring from a common source, no matter what that source is called? If we do share a common source, what it there to fight about?
The human capacity for shedding blood over the smallest details of religion has always baffled me. One of us believes Saturday is the Sabbath, the other Sunday, and a third practices every day. You wear a Yarmulke, he wears a Kufi, and I pray with my head uncovered. Clearly, the best thing to do is to kill one another over such obvious and profound transgressions of religious polity. The three Abrahamic faiths tend to lead the way in killing those who see Divinity differently, most likely because we struggle to believe our own religious teachings that we are accepted and loved by an all knowing, all seeing, all loving Deity that created everything that is. Essentially, we don't believe our own story but are perfectly willing to kill you for doing the same. If Harold was God, he would be shaking his head up in the clouds.
Ultimately what is experienced in prayer and meditation is far too large to be described with words. Every attempt to do so falls miserably short, which is why do many mystics resort to poetry in an attempt to do their experience justice. Perhaps we would do better to not name whatever is encountered. That might be why God, when Moses asked God's Name, simply responded "I am." Who is encountered in the silence? That which is. Perhaps even saying that is saying too much.