“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”—JAMES 4:8.
1. Why do we need to keep our relationship with Jehovah strong?
IF YOU are a baptized Witness of Jehovah, you have something very valuable. You have a personal relationship with Jehovah. But that relationship is being attacked by Satan’s world and can also be weakened by our own imperfections. That is why we all must keep our relationship with Jehovah as strong as possible.
2. (a) What is a relationship? (See footnote.) (b) How can we make our relationship with Jehovah stronger?
2 Is Jehovah real to you? Do you feel that he is your Friend? Would you like your relationship with him to be even stronger? James 4:8 tells you what you need to do: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” Your relationship with Jehovah involves both you and Jehovah.* (See footnote.) If you take steps to draw close to Jehovah, he will take steps to draw close to you. The more you do this, the more real he will become to you, and your relationship will be so close that you will feel the way Jesus did when he said: “The One who sent me is real” and, “I know him.” (John 7:28, 29) But what are some things you can do to draw closer to Jehovah?
3. How can we communicate with Jehovah?
3 If you want to draw close to Jehovah, it is very important that you and Jehovah communicate regularly. But how is this possible? Well, think about how you and a friend who lives far away might communicate. You could write to each other often and talk on the telephone. You talk to Jehovah when you regularly pray to him. (Read Psalm 142:2.) But how can you let Jehovah talk to you? You do this when you regularly read his word, the Bible, and meditate on it. (Read Isaiah 30:20, 21.) Let us see how this communication between you and Jehovah can strengthen your relationship with him and make him a real Friend to you.
LET JEHOVAH SPEAK TO YOU WHEN YOU STUDY THE BIBLE
4, 5. How does Jehovah speak to you when you study the Bible? Give an example.
4 We know that the Bible is God’s message for everyone. But can the Bible help you to draw closer to Jehovah? Yes! As you regularly read and study the Bible, pay attention to how you feel about what you are reading. And think about how you can apply what you learn. When you do this, you are letting Jehovah speak to you. He becomes a close Friend who is helping you, and you draw closer to him.—Hebrews 4:12; James 1:23-25.
5 For example, how do you feel when you read Jesus’ words: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth”? If you are doing your best to put Jehovah first in your life, you will feel that he is pleased with you. But you might read Jesus’ words and realize that you need to simplify your life and focus more on serving God. If so, then Jehovah is helping you to understand what you can do to draw closer to him.—Matthew 6:19, 20.
6, 7. (a) When we study the Bible, what happens to our love for Jehovah and his love for us? (b) What should our main goal be when we study the Bible?
6 It is true that when we study the Bible, we learn about the changes we can make to serve Jehovah better. But we also learn about the loving things he does and his beautiful personality, which makes us love him more. And as our love for him grows, his love for us grows, and our relationship with him becomes even stronger.—Read 1 Corinthians 8:3.
7 If we want to draw close to Jehovah, it is important that we study the Bible for the right reason. Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) We can learn many new and interesting things when we read the Bible, but our main goal should be to come to know Jehovah better as a Person.—Read Exodus 33:13; Psalm 25:4.
8. (a) What might some think about the way Jehovah treated King Azariah? (b) If you know Jehovah, how will you feel about what he does?
8 When we know Jehovah as a close Friend, we will not be worried if the Bible does not always explain why he acted the way he did. For example, when Azariah was the king of Judah, the people worshipped false gods. Azariah did not join them. “He continued to do what was right in Jehovah’s eyes.” (2 Kings 15:1-5) But Jehovah punished Azariah with leprosy. Why? This part of the story does not tell us. So how do you feel about what Jehovah did? Does it worry you and make you feel that Jehovah was not fair, that he punished Azariah for no good reason? No. If you know Jehovah very well, you know that his discipline is always right. He always disciplines “to the proper degree.” (Jeremiah 30:11) So, even though you may not know why Jehovah punished Azariah, you can be sure that Jehovah did what was right.
9. What details help us to understand why Jehovah punished Azariah with leprosy?
9 The Bible does give us more details about the life of King Azariah, who was also known as King Uzziah. (2 Kings 15:7, 32) The rest of the story at 2 Chronicles 26:3-5, 16-21 says that he did “what was right in Jehovah’s eyes.” But it also says that later “his heart became haughty to his own ruin.” The king tried to do something that only priests were allowed to do. Eighty-one priests told him that he was wrong and tried to stop him. How did he react? He had become so proud that he got angry with them! These additional details help us to understand why Jehovah punished the king with leprosy.
The more you get to know Jehovah, the more you will trust that what he does is always right
10. Why do we not need to know the reasons for everything Jehovah does? How can we have more trust that Jehovah always does what is right?
10 What important lesson do we learn? In the story of King Azariah, we have enough details to help us understand why Jehovah punished him. But when the Bible does not give all the details, what will you do? Will you wonder if Jehovah really did what was right? Or will you feel that the Bible has enough information for you to trust that God always does what is right? (Deuteronomy 32:4) The more you get to know Jehovah as a Person, the more you will love and trust him. And then you will not need to know the reasons for everything he does. As you study the Bible, Jehovah will become more real to you and you will draw closer to him.—Psalm 77:12, 13.
YOU SPEAK TO JEHOVAH WHEN YOU PRAY
11-13. How do you know that Jehovah listens to prayers? (See opening picture.)
11 When we pray, we draw close to Jehovah. We praise him, thank him, and ask him for help. (Psalm 32:8) But if you want a close friendship with Jehovah, you must be convinced that he hears prayers.
12 Some people say that God does not listen to prayers and that saying a prayer is just something that makes you feel better. They believe that prayer simply helps you to think carefully about your problems and to find your own answers. It is true that prayer might help you in these ways. But when you talk to Jehovah in prayer, he really is listening to you. How can you be sure?
You can be sure that Jehovah listens to your prayers
13 Think about this: Before Jesus came to earth, he saw that Jehovah answered the prayers of His human servants. When on earth, Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven about his thoughts and feelings. One time, he even prayed all night. (Luke 6:12; 22:40-46) Would Jesus have done that if he thought that Jehovah was not really listening? Jesus also taught his followers how to pray to Jehovah. Would he have done that if he thought that Jehovah does not listen to prayers? Clearly, Jesus knew that Jehovah really does hear prayers. He even said: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me.” We too can be just as sure that Jehovah listens to our prayers.—John 11:41, 42; Psalm 65:2.
14, 15. (a) How do we benefit when we ask for specific things in our prayers? (b) How did Kathy’s prayers help her to draw closer to Jehovah?
14 The answers to your prayers may not always be obvious. But when you ask for specific things in your prayers, you will be able to see Jehovah’s answers more clearly, and he will become more real to you. If you openly let Jehovah know about everything that worries you, he will draw closer to you.
15 For example, Kathy often went in the field ministry, but she did not enjoy it.* (See footnote.) She said: “I did not like field service. I mean, I really did not like it.” When she retired from her job, an elder encouraged her to become a regular pioneer. She said: “He even handed me an application form. I decided to pioneer, but I also began to pray daily that Jehovah would make me like field service.” Did Jehovah answer her prayers? After pioneering for three years, she now says: “As a result of spending more time in the ministry and learning from other sisters, I have gradually improved in my ability to witness. Today, I do not like field service—I love it. What is more, my relationship with Jehovah is so much closer than it used to be.” Kathy’s prayers truly helped her to draw closer to Jehovah.
DO YOUR PART
16, 17. (a) What must we do to keep strengthening our relationship with Jehovah? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
16 We can keep drawing closer to Jehovah forever. So let us keep listening to him by regularly studying the Bible, and let us keep speaking to him by praying. If we do this, our relationship with Jehovah will become stronger and stronger, and with his help we will be able to endure trials.
We can keep drawing closer to Jehovah forever
17 But sometimes we struggle with personal problems, even though we continually pray to Jehovah. At these times, we could start to lose our trust in Jehovah. We might feel that Jehovah does not hear our prayers and may wonder if we really are his friend. If you begin to feel this way, what can you do? The next article will help you.
A relationship is the way two people feel about and act toward each other. Both of them must do something to keep their relationship strong.
Name has been changed.