Which situation sets you most at ease: visiting a house that looks like it just underwent an intense spring clean just for you and you must not disturb it, or visiting one that is obviously lived in and you are welcome to make yourself at home?
Our lives, like those houses, fall somewhere between the two and God prefers to visit the latter.
God wants intimacy with us but there are two basic principles for a genuine relationship with Him—meeting Him in spirit and truth. Jesus told a Samaritan woman with a dark past:
An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)
God is spirit so our connection with Him must be spiritual. Religious ritual falls short. Absent minded repetition of songs and prayers get us nowhere. Worshipping God in spirit means allowing our spirits free rein—freedom from distractions and self-consciousness, freedom to focus on God.
It is pointless trying to hide or pretend with God, He already knows the whole truth about us. When we approach God with trust, unashamedly exposing the dark corners of our lives, it invites Him to do whatever He desires in us.
Our image of the Father affects how we relate to Him. If we know Him as gentle and accepting it is easier for us to be genuine. If we see the Father as distant, demanding and punishing, then we are more likely to try to hide the truth.
Jesus showed us what the Father is like. The way Jesus related to the Samaritan woman is the way the Father will relate to us—facing us with our down side but lifting us to an unexpected height above our former fallenness.
Never be afraid to allow God to make Himself a home in your heart.