How Can I Become God’s Friend?
Through personal tragedy Jeremy came to appreciate the value of having a friendship with God. “When I was 12, my father left our family,” he explains. “One night I was praying in bed, begging Jehovah to make my father come back.”
In his despair, Jeremy began reading his Bible. When he came upon Psalm 10:14, he was profoundly moved. That verse says of Jehovah: “To you the unfortunate one, the fatherless boy, commits himself. You yourself have become his helper.” Jeremy says: “I felt that Jehovah was talking to me and letting me know that he was my helper; he was my Father. What better father could I have than him?”
WHETHER you’re in a situation similar to that of Jeremy or not, the Bible indicates that Jehovah wants you to be his friend. In fact, the Bible says: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” (James 4:8) Think about what those words mean: Even though you can’t see him—and he’s certainly not your peer in any sense of the word—Jehovah God is inviting you to be his friend!
But friendship with God will require effort on your part. To illustrate: If you have a houseplant, you know that it doesn’t grow on its own. For it to thrive, you have to water it regularly and keep it in an environment that’s suitable for growth. The same is true of friendship with God. How can you help such a friendship to grow?
The Importance of Study
Friendship involves two-way communication—both listening and talking. That’s also true of friendship with God. Reading and studying the Bible is the way we listen to what God has to say to us.—Psalm 1:2, 3.
Granted, study may not be your favorite activity. Many youths would rather watch TV, play a game, or just hang out with friends. But if you want to cultivate friendship with God, there’s no shortcut. You’ll need to listen to him by studying his Word.
Don’t worry, though. Bible study doesn’t have to be a chore. You can learn to enjoy it—even if you don’t consider yourself the studying type. The first thing you need to do is set aside time for Bible study. “I have a schedule,” says a girl named Lais. “I read one chapter of the Bible first thing each morning.” Maria, 15, has a different routine. “I read a little of the Bible each night before I go to sleep,” she says.
To get started on your own study program, look at the box on page 292. Then, below, write down a time when you could spend just 30 minutes or so studying God’s Word.
Scheduling time is just the start. Once you actually begin studying, you might be hit with the reality that the Bible isn’t always easy reading. You may agree with 11-year-old Jezreel, who candidly states, “Some parts of the Bible are heavy going and not very entertaining.” If you feel that way, don’t give up. Always approach study of the Bible with the view that you’re taking time to listen to Jehovah God, your friend. In the end, Bible study will be as exciting and rewarding as you choose to make it!
Prayer Is Vital
Prayer is the way we talk to God. Think of what an amazing gift prayer is! You can call on Jehovah God at any time of the day or night. He’s always available. More than that, he wants to hear what you have to say. That’s why the Bible urges you: “In everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.”—Philippians 4:6.
As that scripture indicates, there are many things you can talk to Jehovah about. These might include your problems and anxieties. They could also include things that you’re grateful for. After all, don’t you find yourself thanking your friends for the good things they have done for you? You can do the same with Jehovah, who has done more for you than any other friend ever could.—Psalm 106:1.
Below, list some things for which you are thankful to Jehovah.
No doubt there are fears and anxieties that weigh on your mind from time to time. Psalm 55:22 says: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”
On the following lines, list any personal concerns that you would like to make a matter of prayer.
There’s another aspect of your friendship with God that you shouldn’t ignore. The psalmist David wrote: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.” (Psalm 34:8) When David composed the 34th Psalm, he had just been through a frightening experience. He was on the run from murderous King Saul—a harrowing ordeal in itself. But then he had to take refuge among his enemies the Philistines. Faced with what seemed to be certain death, David cleverly disguised his sanity and was able to get away.—1 Samuel 21:10-15.
David didn’t attribute his narrow escape to his own ingenuity. Instead, he gave credit to Jehovah. Earlier in the psalm mentioned above, he wrote: “I inquired of Jehovah, and he answered me, and out of all my frights he delivered me.” (Psalm 34:4) It was from personal experience, then, that David could urge others to “taste and see that Jehovah is good.”*
Can you think of an experience in your life that gives evidence of Jehovah’s care? If so, write about it below. Hint: The experience need not be highly dramatic. Try to reflect on simple everyday blessings, some of which may easily be taken for granted.
Perhaps your parents have taught you about the Bible. If so, that’s a blessing. Still, you need to develop a personal friendship with God. If you haven’t done that, you can use the material in this chapter to help you get started. Jehovah will bless your efforts. The Bible says: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find.”—Matthew 7:7.
Find it hard to talk to others about God? Learn how you can defend your beliefs.
Some Bibles render the phrase “taste and see” as “discover for yourself,” “find out for yourself,” and “by experience you will see.”—Contemporary English Version, Today’s English Version, and The Bible in Basic English.
“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”—Matthew 5:3.
Read just four pages of the Bible each day, and you’ll complete it in about a year.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
The fact that you’re reading this book and responding to its Bible-based counsel indicates that Jehovah is taking a personal interest in you.—John 6:44.
To get more out of personal Bible study, I will ․․․․․
To become more regular in my prayers, I will ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● How can you make personal study of the Bible more enjoyable?
● Why does Jehovah want to listen to the prayers of imperfect humans?
● How can you improve the quality of your prayers?
[Blurb on page 291]
“When I was younger, my prayers were repetitious. Now I try to pray about the good and the bad points of each particular day. Since no two days are exactly alike, this keeps me from saying the same things over and over.”—Eve
[Box/Picture on page 292]
Explore Your Bible
1. Select a Bible account that you would like to read. Pray for wisdom to understand the material.
2. Read the account carefully. Take your time. As you read, use your imagination. Engage as many of your senses as you can: Try to see the action, hear the voices of the characters, smell the air, taste the food, and so forth. Make the account come to life in your mind!
3. Think about what you just read. Ask yourself questions, such as the following:
● Why did Jehovah include this account in his Word?
● Which characters are worthy of imitation, and which ones serve as warning examples?
● What practical lessons can I take away from this reading?
● What does the account teach me about Jehovah and the way he does things?
4. Say a brief prayer to Jehovah. Tell him what you learned from your Bible study and how you plan to apply the material in your life. Always thank Jehovah for the gift he has given you—his Word, the Holy Bible!
“Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—Psalm 119:105.
[Box/Picture on page 294]
First Things First
Too busy to pray? No time for Bible study? Often, it comes down to how you set your priorities.
Try this experiment: Take a bucket, and place several large rocks inside it. Now fill the bucket with sand—all the way to the top. You now have a bucket full of rocks and sand.
Now empty the bucket, but keep the same sand and rocks. Try the process in reverse: Fill the bucket with sand, and then try to place the rocks inside the bucket. No room? That’s because this time you put the sand in the bucket first.
The point? The Bible says: “Make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) If you put small things like recreation in first place, you’ll never seem to have enough room in your life for the big things—spiritual pursuits. But if you follow the Bible’s admonition, you’ll find that you have room for both Kingdom interests and a measure of recreation. It’s all a matter of what you put in your bucket first!
[Picture on page 290]
Like a houseplant, friendship with God requires nurturing if it is to grow