How to Gain Help Through Prayer
1. What help do we need from God, and how do we receive it?
TO KEEP FREE from the world’s wicked influence, Christians especially need the help received through prayer. Jesus said: “The Father in heaven [will] give holy spirit to those asking him.” (Luke 11:13) We need God’s holy spirit, or active force, even as we need to study his Word and to associate with his organization. But to receive holy spirit, we must pray for it.
2. (a) What is prayer? (b) What are various forms of prayer? (c) Why is prayer important?
2 Prayer is respectful speech to God. It can be in the form of a request, such as when asking God for things. But prayer can also be an expression of thanks or praise to God. (1 Chronicles 29:10-13) In order to have a good relationship with our heavenly Father, we must regularly talk to him in prayer. (Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18) His active force, which is received by our asking for it, can strengthen us to do his will despite any troubles or temptations that Satan or his world may bring upon us.—1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 3:20.
3. (a) What strength can we receive from God? (b) How only can we maintain a good relationship with God?
3 You may be having a real fight to get rid of some habit or practice that is not pleasing to God. If so, seek Jehovah’s help. Turn to him in prayer. The apostle Paul did, and he wrote: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Philippians 4:13; Psalm 55:22; 121:1, 2) A woman who broke free from a course of immorality said: “He is the only one who has the power to help you get out of that situation. You have to have that personal relationship with Jehovah, and the only way to keep that personal relationship is to pray.”
4. How did a man receive strength to break free from the smoking habit?
4 Yet a person may say: ‘I have prayed for God’s help many times, but I still cannot keep from doing wrong.’ Persons who smoke have said this. When such a man was asked: “When do you pray?” he answered: “In the evening before going to bed, in the morning when getting up, and after I weaken and take a smoke, I tell Jehovah that I am sorry for what I have done.” His friend said: “The time that you really need God’s help is the moment that you are reaching for a smoke, is it not? That is the time you should pray to Jehovah to strengthen you.” When the man did, he received help to stop smoking.
5. (a) What does it require to serve God properly? (b) What indicates that suffering is often involved in withdrawing from sinful activity?
5 This is not to say that prayer to God, along with study of his Word and association with his visible organization, will make it easy for you to do what is right. It still requires effort; yes, a hard fight, which may even include suffering. (1 Corinthians 9:27) Bad habits can result in a terrible craving for what is bad. So suffering usually results when a person withdraws from sinful activity. Are you willing to suffer in order to do what is right?—1 Peter 2:20, 21.
PRAYERS THAT GOD HEARS
6. (a) Why do many find it hard to pray? (b) What do we need in order for our prayers to be heard?
6 Many persons find it hard to pray. “I am having trouble praying to someone I can’t see,” confessed a young woman. Since no human has seen God, we need faith in order to pray and to be heard by God. We need to believe that Jehovah really exists and that he can do what we ask. (Hebrews 11:6) If we have that kind of faith, and if we approach God with a sincere heart, we can be sure that he will help us. (Mark 9:23) Thus, even though the Roman army officer Cornelius was not at the time part of God’s organization, when he sincerely prayed for guidance, God answered his prayer.—Acts 10:30-33.
7. (a) What kind of prayers please God? (b) To what kind of prayers will God not listen?
7 Some persons have a hard time expressing themselves in words. However, this should not keep them from speaking to God in prayer. We can be sure that he knows our needs and will understand what we want to say. (Matthew 6:8) Think about it: Which expression do you most appreciate from a child—his simple, sincere thanks or the special words someone told him to say? Our Father in heaven likewise appreciates simple, sincere expressions from us. (James 4:6; Luke 18:9-14) No special words or religious language are needed. He will not even listen to those who pray in unusual or high-sounding language to impress others, or who say the same things over and over again in an insincere way.—Matthew 6:5, 7.
8. (a) What shows that God can hear prayers said silently? (b) Does the Bible indicate that we must pray in any certain position or place?
8 Even when you pray silently, God can hear. When Nehemiah did, God acted upon his sincere request, and likewise with Hannah. (Nehemiah 2:4-8; 1 Samuel 1:11-13, 19, 20) Nor is a person’s physical position when praying the important thing. You can pray while in any position, at any time and at any place. However, the Bible shows that a position of humility, such as bowing the head or kneeling, is appropriate. (1 Kings 8:54; Nehemiah 8:6; Daniel 6:10; Mark 11:25; John 11:41) And Jesus indicated that it is good when personal prayers can be said in a place of privacy, unseen to men.—Matthew 6:6.
9. (a) To whom should all our prayers be directed, and why? (b) For our prayers to be acceptable to God, in whose name should they be offered?
9 Prayer is part of our worship. For this reason our prayers should be addressed only to our Creator, Jehovah God, not to anyone else. (Matthew 4:10) And the Bible shows that Christians must approach God through Jesus, who gave his life to take away our sins. This means we should say our prayers in the name of Jesus.—John 14:6, 14; 16:23; Ephesians 5:20; 1 John 2:1, 2.
10. (a) Whose prayers are not pleasing to God? (b) What basic requirement must we meet if our prayers are to be heard by God?
10 However, are all prayers pleasing to Jehovah? The Bible says: “He that is turning his ear away from hearing the law—even his prayer is something detestable.” (Proverbs 28:9; 15:29; Isaiah 1:15) Therefore if we want God to hear our prayers, a basic requirement is that we do his will, that we obey his laws. Otherwise God will not listen to us, just as an upright person would not listen to a radio program that he considers immoral. The Bible says: “Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we are observing his commandments and are doing the things that are pleasing in his eyes.”—1 John 3:22.
11. What does it mean to work at what we pray for?
11 This means that we must work at what we pray for. For example, it would be wrong for a person to ask God for his help to stop using tobacco or marijuana and then go out and buy these things. Nor could he ask Jehovah to help him to avoid immorality and then read literature and watch movies and television programs that feature immorality. Or if gambling is a person’s weakness, he could not pray for God to help him to stop and then visit racetracks or other such places where gambling is carried on. For our prayers to be heard by God, we need to show him by our actions that we really mean what we say.
12. (a) What are things that we can include in our prayers? (b) In order for our prayers to be pleasing to God, what must we learn?
12 What, then, are personal things that we can include in our prayers to Jehovah? Actually, anything that will affect our relationship with God is a proper subject for prayer, including our physical health, as well as the rearing of children. (2 Kings 20:1-3; Judges 13:8) The apostle John wrote: “No matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) So the important thing is that our requests be in harmony with God’s will. This means that we first need to learn what his will is. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Then if we take into consideration God’s will and purpose when we pray, rather than simply being concerned with our own personal interests, our prayers will be acceptable to Jehovah. It is proper that we thank Jehovah every day for the good things he provides.—John 6:11, 23; Acts 14:16, 17.
13. (a) How did Jesus show what should be the matters of first concern in our prayers? (b) What are things of secondary importance that we should pray about?
13 Jesus gave his followers a model prayer to guide them as to the kind of prayer God accepts. (Matthew 6:9-13) This prayer shows that God’s name, his kingdom and the doing of his will on earth come first. Next, we may ask for our personal needs, such as our daily food, the forgiveness of sins, and the deliverance from temptation and from the wicked one, Satan the Devil.
PRAYERS TO HELP OTHERS
14. How does the Bible show the importance of praying in behalf of others?
14 Jesus showed by his example the importance of praying in behalf of others. (Luke 22:32; 23:34; John 17:20) The apostle Paul knew the value of such prayers and often asked others to pray for him. (1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Romans 15:30) While in prison he wrote: “I am hoping that through the prayers of you people I shall be set at liberty.” (Philemon 22; Ephesians 6:18-20) That Paul was soon afterward released from prison indicates the benefit of the prayers that were said for him.
15. What kind of requests can we make with regard to persons whom we love?
15 Paul also said helpful prayers in behalf of others. “We always pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling,” he wrote. (2 Thessalonians 1:11) And to another congregation he explained: “We pray to God that you may do nothing wrong . . . but that you may be doing what is fine.” (2 Corinthians 13:7) Surely it is good to follow Paul’s example and to make specific requests in behalf of persons whom we love. Indeed, “a righteous man’s supplication [sincere pleading], when it is at work, has much force.”—James 5:13-16.
16. (a) To gain needed help, when should we pray? (b) Why is prayer such a great privilege?
16 When conducting a Bible study, one minister often asks: “Do you pray at other times in addition to the occasion of your weekly Bible study?” To gain the help that we need, we must speak to God often in prayer. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:1-8) Learn to talk humbly to him as you would to a beloved and trusted friend. Truly, what a wonderful privilege it is to be able to address prayer to the glorious Ruler of all the universe, the Hearer of prayer, and know that he hears you!—Psalm 65:2.
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What should one do when tempted to smoke—pray for help or give in?
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Do you pray for help and then become involved in activity that can lead to wrongdoing?
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Do you pray privately or only when with others?