My youngest son posed that question after our bedtime prayers one evening last week.
(By the way, why is it that kids have a tendency to ask such deep questions when parents are exhausted, or busy, or both?)
I summoned what brain power I had left for the day and considered his question. One simple answer is that we can see evidence of a Master Designer in creation, with all its magnificent order.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. – Psalm 19:1
But my son wasn’t asking about evidence of God in the world at large. He was asking how we can know that God is real to us, as individuals.
When we pray, how do we know that there is a God listening to us?
Though the Psalmist did not doubt God’s existence, even he cried out to God to reveal himself during times of seeming silence from above.
Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me? – Psalm 13:1
Some dear fellow believers have told me that they have heard the voice of God speaking to them internally. I’ve experienced something similar to that, when asking God for guidance during a difficult time. I didn’t hear a voice, exactly, but God did bring to mind words of Scripture – his words, after all – that were just what I needed to hear at the time.
I believe I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit, and I tried to explain that experience to my son.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. – John 14:26
I also explained to him that God works on a different timetable than we do. Often, I don’t see answers to my prayers for months or years; but when I look back on the path my life has taken, I can see the hand of God in hindsight. His answers may have seemed delayed at the time, but he was working all along through the events of my life to answer my prayers in a way that eventually worked together for my good.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. – Psalm 37:23-24
My son’s response was, “But I’m only nine.”
At that point, I told him to have faith and keep practicing the fundamentals: praying, reading his Bible, and doing what God is asking him to do, as a young boy. I reassured him of God’s desire to know and love him, and to be known and loved by him.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. – James 4:8a
As with any good relationship, getting to know God takes a regular investment of time and effort.
How do you explain the existence of God? I welcome your insight!