“When you have so much pressure at school, at work, or with friends and family, you sometimes forget who’s most important—God.”—Faviola, 15, United States.
“PRAY incessantly.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “Persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) “Let your petitions be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) If you’re a Christian, you probably know those scriptures well. You likely also realize that prayer is the most amazing form of communication there is. Just think—at any time of the day or night, you can speak to Almighty God! And the Bible says: “He hears us.”*—1 John 5:14.
Still, like the youth quoted at the outset, you might find prayer to be a challenge. If so, what can you do about it? This article will help you to (1) identify the obstacle, (2) create a goal with regard to your prayers, and (3) unlock the “door” so that you can achieve your goal.
First, let’s identify the obstacle. What particular aspect of prayer is most challenging for you?
Your next step is to create a goal. Below, check a goal that you would like to meet, or write one on the line next to “Other.”
I would like to pray more often.
I would like to make my prayers more varied.
I would like to make my prayers more heartfelt.
Unlocking the “Door”
Prayer is like a door that you can open at any time. However, many youths would say that they do not open the door as frequently or as freely as they should. If that’s so in your case, don’t give up! You’ve already identified the challenge and set a goal. Now you just need a key to unlock the door. Consider some obstacles that you might face, along with suggestions on how to overcome them.
The Lock: NEGLECT.
“Sometimes because of my hectic schedule, prayer gets pushed aside.”—Preeti, 20, Britain.
The Key: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked.”—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
Suggestion: In advance, pick what might be a good time to pray each day. You could even write it down on paper, much as you would write down a reminder for an appointment. “If I don’t set a specific time to pray, I become preoccupied with other things,” says 18-year-old Yoshiko in Japan.
The Lock: DISTRACTION.
“I lose my concentration, and my mind seems to be on everything except what I’m saying.”—Pamela, 17, Mexico.
The Key: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”—Matthew 12:34.
Suggestion: If your mind still has a tendency to wander, try saying shorter prayers—at least until your concentration improves. Another idea: Pray about matters that are close to your heart. “As I got into my teens,” says 14-year-old Marina in Russia, “I began to meditate on the fact that prayer is actual communication with God. This motivated me to open my heart in prayer to him.”
The Lock: ROUTINE.
“When I pray, I find myself saying the same words over and over.”—Dupe, 17, Benin.
The Key: “I shall certainly meditate on all your activity, and with your dealings I will concern myself.”—Psalm 77:12.
Suggestion: If your prayers seem to be on automatic pilot, each day write down one specific blessing in your life. Then thank Jehovah for that blessing. Keep this up for a week, and you will have prayed about seven new topics without repeating yourself. Take the same approach to daily events. “When I pray, I try to focus on things that happened that day,” says 21-year-old Bruno in Brazil. Samantha, 18, in the United States, does the same. “I try to remember everything today that was different from other days, and then I pray about those things,” she says. “That helps me to keep from saying the same words over and over.”*
The Lock: DOUBT.
“Once when I prayed about a problem at school, it didn’t go away. In fact, more problems arose. I thought, ‘Why pray anymore? Jehovah isn’t listening anyway!’”—Minori, 15, Japan.
The Key: “Along with the temptation he [Jehovah God] will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13.
Suggestion: One thing is certain: Jehovah is the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) So after praying about a matter, try to see the bigger picture. Instead of waiting for the answer that you expect, look for one that may have already come. The fact that you’re still enduring as a Christian means that in all likelihood Jehovah did answer your prayer—not by removing the problem but by giving you the strength to bear it.—Philippians 4:13.
The Lock: EMBARRASSMENT.
“When I think of what my schoolmates will say if they see me praying before lunch, I get embarrassed.”—Hikaru, 17, Japan.
The Key: “There is . . . a right time for everything we want to do.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1, Beck.
Suggestion: While discreet silent prayer can attract favorable notice, you don’t have to make a public spectacle of your prayers. For example, the brief prayer that faithful Nehemiah offered before King Artaxerxes was evidently silent, and there is no record that the king was even aware that Nehemiah was praying. (Nehemiah 2:1-5) You too can offer a silent prayer to Jehovah without drawing attention to yourself.—Philippians 4:5.
The Lock: FEELINGS OF UNWORTHINESS.
“Jehovah already knows about my problems. And if I’m fed up with them, I feel that he probably is too! I just don’t feel worthy to talk to him sometimes.”—Elizabeth, 20, Ireland.
The Key: “Throw all your anxiety upon [God], because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7.
Suggestion: As a personal study project, do research and meditate on the following scriptures: Luke 12:6, 7; John 6:44; Hebrews 4:16; 6:10; 2 Peter 3:9. These verses will help you realize that Jehovah wants to hear from you and that you don’t have to be some type of spiritual giant to gain his listening ear. The psalmist David—who was no stranger to anxiety and distress—expressed the confidence that “Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”*—Psalm 34:18.
The very fact that Jehovah himself hears your prayers says something about his interest in you. “Jehovah hasn’t delegated listening to our prayers to the angels,” says 17-year-old Nicole in Italy. “Obviously, since he personally listens to our prayers, he must consider them important.”
Because the Creator’s hearing doesn’t depend on sound waves, he can even “hear” expressions that are uttered voicelessly in the heart.—Psalm 19:14.
If you feel that your prayers are hindered because of serious sin on your part, by all means talk to your parents. Also, “call [on] the older men of the congregation [for help].” (James 5:14) The elders can help you to get your relationship with God back on track.
What are some things of concern to Jehovah that you might pray about?
What matters pertaining to others might you take to Jehovah in prayer?