Questions From Readers
● Why did The Watchtower of February 15, 1963, on page 115, say: “The privilege of prayer is only for those who have, upon the basis of accurate knowledge, made a dedication of themselves to do Jehovah’s will”?—A. G., Iran.
There is much misconception among professed Christians as to who may pray. In fact, most of them think that anyone may pray regarding any matter with the prospect of being heard. But not so. (Prov. 15:29; Jas. 4:3) Prayer is not an unrestricted privilege, but, rather, a restricted, exclusive one. As we read at Hebrews 11:6: “He that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” In other words, for one to be heard by God one must not only believe God exists but earnestly be seeking him. That is why Jehovah God told the unfaithful Israelites that he was not hearing their prayers. And Jesus showed that the prayers made for effect as well as those made by self-righteous persons are not heard.—Isa. 1:15; Matt. 6:5-8; Luke 18:11-14.
How restrictive all this makes prayer! As has been previously epitomized in the Watch Tower publications (“Make Sure of All Things,” pages 280-286), prayer, to be heard and answered by God, must be made to the right One, Jehovah God, the Creator, the God of the Bible. Secondly, such prayer must be made in the right manner: “No one comes to the Father except through me,” said Jesus. (John 14:6) Included in right manner are also sincerity, faith and perseverance. Thirdly, for prayer to be answered it must be regarding right matters, those in harmony with God’s will. So Jesus taught his followers to pray to God: “Let your will take place.” Even King Solomon of old recognized that prayer was a restricted privilege, for, as regards the foreigners, he asked in behalf of only those who, after hearing of the one true God, Jehovah, would come and pray toward His temple at Jerusalem.—Matt. 6:10; 1 Ki. 8:41-43.
Cornelius was such a man who was desirous of doing God’s will, for, even though he as an uncircumcised man of the nations did not belong to the dedicated nation of Israel, he is described as “a devout man and one fearing God together with all his household, and he made many gifts of mercy to the people and made supplication to God continually.” Cornelius may therefore be said to have been progressing toward dedication, and upon receiving accurate knowledge he did dedicate himself; and from then on he came into covenant relationship with God, and God dealt with him as a son, proof of which He gave by giving Cornelius the holy spirit.—Acts 10:1-44.
Anyone who comes to the true God Jehovah in prayer in the right manner and asks regarding the right things may be said to be of such a mental disposition that he is progressing toward dedication, if not already having made a dedication in his heart, though he may not yet have symbolized it by water immersion. All such persons of goodwill toward God, desirous of doing his will, may be encouraged to pray. Hence, children who are being reared by their parents with a view to their becoming dedicated servants of Jehovah God may also properly be instructed to pray.—1 Cor. 7:14.
However, it can readily be appreciated that persons of the world who have not particularly concerned themselves with a study of the Bible would not know the divine requirements for prayer nor have they manifested an attitude that is pleasing to God. So they would not be in position to offer prayers that would be acceptable to Jehovah.—Prov. 28:9.
It also appears that not a few who for some time were progressing toward dedication are now holding back from taking that step. Yet they continue to associate with God’s people and to serve with them. If it is selfishness that is holding them back, if they cannot find it in their hearts to give themselves in complete dedication to God, they may well ask themselves if they still have the privilege of prayer. Apparently not, because those who approach God must be earnestly seeking him. Such should also note that only those seeking Jehovah, righteousness and meekness, those dedicated and earnestly carrying out their dedication, may hope to be hidden in the day of Jehovah’s anger.—Heb. 11:6; Zeph. 2:3; Luke 13:24.
● Would it be necessary for a psychiatrist to change his profession before he would be eligible for baptism and recognition as one of Jehovah’s witnesses?—R. W., United States.
No, it does not seem that this would be necessary. The fact that the Watch Tower publications have discouraged dedicated Christians consulting worldly psychiatrists except in extreme cases does not mean that a psychiatrist cannot and does not help those who consult him. Whether a psychiatrist continued to practice his profession upon dedication or not would be entirely his decision to make. It is possible that he could be a far better psychiatrist by reason of his now understanding and appreciating Bible principles, and especially because of his faith in Jehovah God and his dedication to do God’s will. See “Scriptural Aspect of Psychosomatic Medicine,” in The Watchtower, April 15, 1954, pages 232-236.
However, a dedicated Christian psychiatrist would need to be very careful not to unduly influence other Christians so that they would come to him for worldly wisdom instead of going to their overseers for heavenly wisdom. In fact, he would have to lean over backwards, as it were, so as not to imply that his psychiatry is a higher wisdom than that found in the Bible The Bible contains far better advice for making over our personalities than does either psychiatry or psychoanalysis. And only its wisdom leads to everlasting life.—1 Cor. 13:1-13; Gal. 5:19-23; Col. 3:1-25.
● Why did Jesus answer Pilate the way he did at John 18:37?—M. P., United States.
John 18:37 reads: “Therefore Pilate said to him: ‘Well, then, are you a king?’ Jesus answered: ‘You yourself are saying that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.’” Pilate, having heard that Jesus was said to be the king of the Jews, had previously asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And now again he asked, “Well, then, are you a king?” To his first question Jesus had replied, “Is it of your own originality that you say this, or did others tell you about me?” This time he replied: “You yourself are saying that I am a king.”—John 18:33-37.
Thus we see that Jesus here was neither affirming nor denying his kingship. Why? So that he could not be charged with sedition against Caesar. This is clear from what the Jews further went on to say in their attempt to influence Pilate to have Jesus executed: “If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar. Every man making himself a king speaks against Caesar.”—John 19:12.
In other words, Jesus was here himself following the counsel he gave his apostles when he sent them forth, to be as cautious as serpents, and that especially when brought before rulers.—Matt. 10:16-18.