Is God Real to You?
WHEN you experience distressing problems, do you readily approach God in prayer? If so, do you sense that you are talking to a real person?
Referring to his heavenly Father, Jesus Christ said: “He that sent me is real.” (John 7:28) Yes, Jehovah God is real, and praying to him is like turning to a very close human friend for help or advice. To be heard by God, of course, our prayers must meet Scriptural requirements for acceptable prayer. For instance, we must humbly approach the “Hearer of prayer” through his Son, Jesus Christ.—Psalm 65:2; 138:6; John 14:6.
Some may feel that because God is invisible, he is impersonal. To them, God may seem abstract. Even some Christians, who have learned about God’s wonderful attributes, may at times find it difficult to appreciate how real he is. Has this been your experience? If so, what can help to make Jehovah God real to you?
Study the Scriptures
Do you study the Holy Scriptures regularly? The more frequent and intensive your periods of Bible study are, the more real Jehovah God will be to you. Your faith will thus be strengthened, in effect enabling you to ‘see the One who is invisible.’ (Hebrews 11:6, 27) On the other hand, infrequent or spasmodic study of the Bible is unlikely to have a significant impact on your faith.
To illustrate: Imagine that your doctor directed you to apply a certain ointment twice a day to eliminate a persistent rash. Would your rash disappear if you applied the ointment only once or twice a month? That is not likely. Similarly, the psalmist gives us a “prescription” for spiritual health. Read God’s Word “in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) To enjoy the cumulative benefit, we need to follow the “prescription”—daily consideration of God’s Word with the help of Christian publications.—Joshua 1:8.
Would you like to make your study periods more faith strengthening? Here is one suggestion: After reading a chapter in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures or another Bible containing cross-references, select an interesting verse and look up the reference scriptures cited. This will enrich your study, and doubtless you will be impressed with the internal harmony of the Bible. In turn, this will make its Author, Jehovah God, more real to you.
Using cross-references can also familiarize you with Bible prophecies and their fulfillment. Perhaps you are acquainted with major Bible prophecies, such as those relating to Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. Yet, the Bible contains a network of interrelated prophecies and their fulfillment. Some of these are not well-known.
For example, read the prophecy about the penalty for rebuilding Jericho and then consider its fulfillment. Joshua 6:26 states: “Joshua had an oath pronounced at that particular time, saying: ‘Cursed may the man be before Jehovah who gets up and does build this city, even Jericho. At the forfeit of his firstborn let him lay the foundation of it, and at the forfeit of his youngest let him put up its doors.’” Fulfillment came some 500 years later, for we read at 1 Kings 16:34: “In [King Ahab’s] days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho. At the forfeit of Abiram his firstborn he laid the foundation of it, and at the forfeit of Segub his youngest he put up its doors, according to Jehovah’s word that he spoke by means of Joshua the son of Nun.”* Only a real God could inspire such prophecies and see to their fulfillment.
While reading the Bible, you may become curious about a certain point. For instance, you may wonder how many years elapsed between a prophecy and its fulfillment. Rather than simply asking someone, why not put forth the effort to find out for yourself? With the use of charts and Bible study aids, track down the answers as industriously as you would endeavor to decipher a treasure map. (Proverbs 2:4, 5) Finding the answers will have a profound effect on your faith and will make Jehovah God more real to you.
Pray Regularly and Fervently
Do not overlook the importance of prayer and faith. Jesus’ disciples made this direct request: “Give us more faith.” (Luke 17:5) If Jehovah has not seemed real to you, why not pray to him about your need for more faith? Confidently ask your heavenly Father for his help in making himself real to you.
If a problem is weighing on your mind, take the time needed to express yourself to your heavenly Friend in a heartfelt way. When Jesus was approaching death, he prayed intensely. Although he condemned the religious practice of saying lengthy prayers meant for public display, he spent a whole night in private prayer before selecting his 12 apostles. (Mark 12:38-40; Luke 6:12-16) We might also take a lesson from Hannah, who became the mother of the prophet Samuel. Yearning for a male offspring, “she prayed extendedly before Jehovah.”—1 Samuel 1:12.
What is the basic lesson in all of this? If you hope to receive answers to your prayers, you must pray earnestly, fervently, incessantly—and, of course, in harmony with God’s will. (Luke 22:44; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 John 5:13-15) Doing this will help to make God real to you.
An artist’s personality can be revealed by his paintings. Similarly, the “invisible qualities” of Jehovah, the Designer and Creator of the universe, are clearly seen in creation. (Romans 1:20) When we carefully observe Jehovah’s handiwork, we obtain a better understanding of his personality, and he thus becomes more real to us.
If you go beyond casual observation of things created by God, you may be deeply impressed with the reality of his qualities. For example, information about the navigational abilities of birds may well heighten your appreciation of Jehovah’s wisdom. In reading about the universe, you may learn that the Milky Way, which is about 100,000 light-years across, is only one of billions of galaxies throughout space. Does that not impress upon you the reality of the Creator’s wisdom?
Certainly, Jehovah’s wisdom is real! But what does that mean to you? Well, he surely cannot be perplexed by the problems that any of us take to him in prayer. Yes, even meager knowledge of creation can make Jehovah more real to you.
Walk With Jehovah
Can you personally experience how real Jehovah is? Yes, if you are like the faithful patriarch Noah. He always obeyed Jehovah, so much so that it could be said: “Noah walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:9) Noah lived as though Jehovah were by his very side. God can be that real to you.
If you are walking with God, you trust in Scriptural promises and act in harmony with them. For instance, you believe Jesus’ words: “Keep on . . . seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things [material necessities] will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-33) True, Jehovah may not always provide what you need in the way you expect. Yet, when you pray and then experience God’s help, he will be as real to you as anyone who is at your side.
Such a close relationship with Jehovah develops as one persists in walking with God. Consider Manuela, a Spanish-speaking Witness, who has endured numerous trials. She says: “Whenever I am troubled or in need, I have applied the principle found at Proverbs 18:10. I run to Jehovah for help. He has always been ‘a strong tower’ for me.” Manuela can say this after 36 years of relying on Jehovah and experiencing his support.
Are you just beginning to make Jehovah your confidence? Do not be discouraged if your relationship with him is not yet what you want it to be. Live each day as a person who is walking with God. As you build a life pattern of faithfulness, you will come to enjoy a closer relationship with Jehovah.—Psalm 25:14; Proverbs 3:26, 32.
Another way to walk with God is to be absorbed in his service. When you engage in the Kingdom-preaching activity, you are a fellow worker with Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 3:9) Being aware of this helps to make God very real to you.
The psalmist urges: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.” (Psalm 37:5) Never fail to roll upon God whatever burdens or cares you have. Always look to him for help and guidance. If you prayerfully rely on Jehovah God and always trust him implicitly, you will feel secure because you know that he will not fail to act in your behalf. Are you confident when approaching Jehovah with your personal concerns? You will be—if God is real to you.
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Make your study periods faith strengthening
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Take time for regular, fervent prayer
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Observe how God’s qualities are manifest in creation
Hummingbird: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C./Dean Biggins; stars: Photo: Copyright IAC/RGO 1991, Dr. D. Malin et al, Isaac Newton Telescope, Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma, Canary Islands