Never “Too Busy to Pray”
“Pray incessantly.”—1 Thess. 5:17.
1, 2. (a) What is prayer? (b) What danger is there is not praying?
SPEECH is the natural bridge to understanding and friendship between men. Prayer is the spiritual bridge to understanding and friendship between man and Jehovah God. It is described as a precious privilege, but is so often neglected. Are you at a loss for words as to what to say and how to say it to your Father in heaven? In the pursuit of life and happiness it is not wise to forget to talk to the Source of life, our Creator and God, Jehovah.
2 Did you forget to talk to God today? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by circumstances so that you overlook the need to pray? We are living in the midst of an ungrateful world. There is an ever-present danger of becoming a forgetter of God, saying in effect that you have no need of him. What impression are you giving to the “Hearer of prayer,” the One to whom all people should come?—Ps. 65:2.
3. When “too busy” to pray, what may one actually be saying?
3 Your prayers mirror your dependence on the Life-Giver. Can anyone really “be too busy” to pray and actually ignore God? By your silence it may be that you are saying in effect, There is no God, or he is dead or not interested in man. Modern science has accomplished much, but gives little or no credit to the Creator of all things. Should we let their accomplishments and their products distract us from talking to God? Of all times, today we need to stay awake to our privilege of prayer.—Luke 21:34-36.
4. Should prayers be repetitious, or what should they reveal?
4 By your requests God knows what is on your mind, what concerns you most. He knows whether you keenly desire the things asked for or if you merely recite words. We are admonished in Matthew 6:7: “But when praying, do not say the same things over and over again.” Some may find it difficult to talk to someone they never saw; others may feel they have nothing to say to the One who already knows everything. But should a Christian reason that way?
5. (a) Give examples of men of prayer. (b) Who is our best example?
5 The Bible, the book of prayer, tells of outstanding men of prayer such as Moses, Daniel and David. King Solomon asked for wisdom and discernment so as to judge properly. Daniel used prayer very effectively in Babylon. (Dan. 9:4, 5, 18, 19) Although we could point to many men of prayer, we can with surety say that no man appreciated prayer like Christ Jesus. Prayer was a prominent part of his life. Even with supernatural powers at his disposal, he always looked to his Father in heaven for wisdom and strength, as well as voicing praise and thanksgiving.—John 5:19, 30.
6. (a) What pattern for prayer is there? (b) How should prayer be viewed?
6 We have the simplest yet the greatest pattern of prayer in the sermon on the mountain. (Matt. 6:9-13) The master teacher talked to his disciples about prayer, and he himself found quiet places to meditate and commune with Jehovah. He was not careless about prayer nor was he ever too busy to pray, even in his active life. He emphasized the need always to pray and never to give up. (Luke 18:1) The apostles likewise stressed the subject. (Eph. 6:18; 1 Pet. 4:7) With all the Scriptural emphasis, we should appreciate the value of talking with our heavenly Father. Is it your desire to reach the lofty throne of Jehovah often with your voice of thanks, praise and petition? What a wonderful gift to man, this privilege of prayer! Day and night in any language you can speak to God, accepting his invitation to approach him, telling him what is on your heart and mind.
REASONS TO KEEP PRAYING
7. How can decisions be made in harmony with Jehovah’s will?
7 Prayer helps you to stop and think when making decisions. Remember, Jesus spent a whole night in prayer prior to choosing his apostles. (Luke 6:12, 13) Daily you are faced with decisions that affect yourself, your family, your brothers and your relation to God. It is appropriate to ask for direction to do God’s will. Then when you know what is pleasing to him, act decisively and with confidence that you are doing what is right.
8. How is prayer a protection, and what might you ask for?
8 Included in the model prayer is the request to be delivered from the wicked one. (Matt. 6:13) Keep asking for God’s help to be strong and endure temptation, so that you might have the courage to say No to deceptive desires, trends, and snares of the old system. (1 Cor. 10:13, 14) We should pray for one another to be on guard against the one who wants to bring Jehovah’s people down to defeat. (2 Thess. 2:9-11) If we practice badness, the Hearer of prayer will not be listening to our petitions. (Prov. 15:29) Thinking on divine principles and laws will help us to see the approved way to go. Ask that you might recall scriptures and Bible examples of faithfulness to keep you away from the borderline of compromise and temptation.
9. (a) What will help in maintaining spiritually? (b) What is often neglected?
9 Never hesitate to pray to keep spiritually alive. Our expressing ourselves in this vein will keep us alert to ways to maintain our spirituality. You are aware of your physical needs such as food, sleep, work and recreation. However, the spiritual needs can easily be neglected, such as the need to pray, to study God’s Word and to share it with others. (Matt. 5:3) As a minister of God, to fulfill your objective in life, rather than taking a natural view of things, endeavor to obtain Jehovah’s elevated viewpoint, to the end of fully pleasing him.—Col. 1:9, 10.
10. (a) Why should we ask for Jehovah’s spirit? (b) What will it aid us to do?
10 To be alive and alert to privileges of serving the only true God, it is vital to have his holy spirit. Do you find yourself asking for it? Christ Jesus recommended doing just that: “How much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:13) Pray for it, rely on it, work for the fruitage of the spirit, for it will motivate you to preach the Kingdom good news. (Luke 4:18, 19) Just think what would be accomplished by a free flow of the holy spirit in each one’s life, helping one to grow in love, goodness and righteousness, and protecting one from being infected with the spirit of the world.—1 Cor. 2:12.
11. (a) What three things can we request? (b) And why are they needed?
11 Our prayer should also be for Bible knowledge, understanding and wisdom. As the human body takes in food, water and air to function, so the mind must be supplied with spiritual food and provisions of divine knowledge and instruction to enable us to cope with problems of life and to accomplish God’s will in our life. The apostle Paul continued praying that the love of the brothers “may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.” (Phil. 1:9) There is a need for understanding; this can be sought after, as well as wisdom. Never be too busy so as not to pray that you might make the best possible use of your time and talents and resources. We are encouraged by James: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all.”—Jas. 1:5.
12. If we want God to listen to our prayers which must we do?
12 Our sincerity in prayer is shown by the effort made to learn what God says to us. By regularly studying His Word we are listening to him, letting him talk to us. We need to heed and listen to God’s counsel as the Israelites were encouraged to do. (Deut. 28:15) When going before an earthly ruler, would it be polite to dominate the conversation, doing all the talking? It is only reasonable that, if we want Jehovah to listen to our prayers, we must pay attention to how we listen to him.—Prov. 28:9.
KEEP AWAKE FOR SERVICE
13. How can one keep alert to witness to others?
13 Having come to a knowledge of the truth, the generous person will be ready to share it with others. Why not pray daily for opportunities to witness. When pausing for water at a well, Christ Jesus witnessed, and as a result many became believers. (John 4:5-42) We can petition God that we might be found in a proper frame of mind to tell the good news anytime, anywhere, as a guest in someone’s home, in the routine of daily activity or in the actual public preaching work.
14. (a) What should accompany our petitions to God? (b) How could our talking to him be in vain?
14 We are obligated to work in harmony with our prayers. As we practice forgiving we can ask for forgiveness. (Matt. 6:12) When asking God to bless the increase of his organization, requesting him to make it grow, then we should plant and water. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) We should busy ourselves in his ministry. Prayer is not a substitute for honest effort. Certainly God will not do for us what we can do ourselves. If we want to grow to maturity, then we ought to study diligently and carefully obey the good news. You will talk to Jehovah in vain if you do not work in accord with your prayers to him.
15, 16. How can a person prove he is for God’s kingdom?
15 There is a grand witness work to be done today. Jesus said: “Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Are you thankful for the privilege to represent the Kingdom government, recommending it to others? We should pray to be useful to the Sovereign Lord that we might prove to be zealous witnesses, talking to others, as well as to him, using his spirit to help us to preach.
16 Prayer improves the heart attitude and the mental appreciation for what counts the most in God’s sight. That is why Paul prayed that the brothers might “make sure of the more important things.” (Phil. 1:9, 10) In the model prayer of Jesus we have emphasized the universal triumph of righteousness in vindication of Jehovah’s name and sovereignty by means of his kingdom. (Matt. 6:9, 10) Why should anything or anybody loom up more importantly in a Christian’s mind than doing God’s will and placing His great name and kingdom foremost?
YOUR PRAYERS TELL ON YOU
17. What will prayers reveal as to pride and humility?
17 Your daily prayers mirror your humility and closeness to God. By calling him Father you acknowledge an inferior position for yourself. Only the humble will talk to Jehovah out of the abundance of the heart; others will find it hurtful to their pride to confess their sins and need of protection. (Luke 18:10-14) Our communication with the loving Creator should display childlike simplicity, sincerity and reverence. It is a joy to talk with one you love and shows true friendship to confide in him, revealing what concerns you most, where your interests are, telling him your desires and regrets.
18, 19. Expressing ourselves to God is a good reminder of what? How can our prayers show maturity?
18 Expressing ourselves in petitions to God is a daily reminder that what we have, comes from the Giver of every good gift. How beautifully the scripture says: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above.” (Jas. 1:17) Living as we do in the midst of a proud, haughty world with its improper value of treasures, it is good to acknowledge our contentment with what we have, requesting: “Give me neither poverty nor riches.”—Prov. 30:8; 1 Tim. 6:6-10.
19 If we always try to reflect God’s glory, then our sincere and humble requests will show our maturity and protect us from boasting. Christ Jesus always pointed to his Father, turning attention to him. Following his example will make us careful not to attract attention to ourselves. (Mark 10:17, 18) Ever drawing close to Jehovah in prayer can save us from the snare of overconfidence, keeping our hearts in tune with our God.—Jas. 4:8-10.
20. (a) On whom should we always rely? (b) By our taking what course will there be no later regrets?
20 It is important regularly to recognize our dependence on God for what we have and need. Tell him what is in your heart as you express appreciation for the measure of health and life you enjoy. Follow the instruction of the psalmist: “Before him pour out your heart.” (Ps. 62:8) By your prayers you show that you are not relying solely on your own strength and ingenuity. Ask that you might use your ‘all’ wisely in the Kingdom’s interests so that later there will be no regrets of wasted days or years when little can be shown for any real progress or results in Kingdom service.
21. (a) How does one become a minister? (b) How is the best progress made thereafter?
21 It is probably the exception that any of Jehovah’s witnesses planned on being a minister. However, who can question the ability of God to make a minister out of anyone? By accepting the teaching and training available through the Bible and publications provided by the Watch Tower Society and regularly attending the Kingdom Hall congregational meetings, one can progress rapidly from a student to a teacher of God’s Word. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) What a privilege to let Jehovah use you to minister the truth to others! This is something to work for and pray for.
22. Who should get the credit for progress made?
22 When you consider the progress you have already made, it is proper and fitting to give Jehovah the credit. Did the success of Christ Jesus go to his head? No, he himself said when inviting others: “Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) The gifted apostle Paul credited God for making things grow. (1 Cor. 3:5-7; 2 Thess. 3:1) Your prayers should show your acknowledgment that what success you have enjoyed in the ministry has been dependent on God’s blessing.
23. (a) What is a good indication of faith? (b) If we are not meeting with success, what can be done?
23 One of the best indications that the Christian has faith in God is prayer. Always be on the lookout for indications of his blessing. Ask for God’s direction and help. Be sure to correct your course when not meeting with success. What seems best is not better than what Jehovah says. Display your complete trust in your heavenly Provider, not leaning on your own ideas. (Prov. 3:5, 6) Then you will want to rejoice when you see his hand with you in giving the witness. Our prayers can express our heartfelt desire to be of service to the Most High God. In view of the fact that our enemies are stronger than we are, it is good to show appreciation for the divine protection we have. That we are alive and busy in the ministry is evidence of divine approval and God’s protecting hand. Be sure to use every form of prayer along with the spiritual armor that has been provided in order to stand firm.—Eph. 6:18.
EXPRESS APPRECIATION ALWAYS
24. For what should we be always thankful, and why should we pray incessantly?
24 Prayer should include expressions of praise and thanksgiving. Life is so valuable that no one can set a price on it. Prayer can be said to be a yardstick of our gratefulness for life. Giving thanks to the Life-Giver aids us to count our blessings. There are many occasions daily to say ‘Thank you’ silently to our heavenly Provider. The grateful heart appreciates the small things as well as the big ones. Readily recognize the Source of all goodness, as the psalmist David did: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:16) Follow the advice in First Thessalonians 5:17, 18: “Pray incessantly. In connection with everything give thanks.”
25, 26. Who can be copied in giving? What can be given to others?
25 Living in a selfish world where people think there is more happiness in getting, we need to copy our God, the Great Giver. Also we should keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) After our having come to a knowledge of the truth it is not intended that it be hoarded selfishly but it is to be used like a wonderful trust, wisely in Kingdom service. We can often thank our Maker, who gave us the gift of speech so that we are able to talk and tell others the wonderful truths learned from the Bible. Neighbor love will move you to be hospitable with what you know. Then it would be most appropriate to thank Jehovah for the good experiences enjoyed in going from door to door preaching and in calling back on interested ones.
26 Sharing the message of God’s Word with others, visiting them in their homes, helping them to search the Scriptures is a joyful work. It is a pleasure to feed starving people the word of life. (Amos 8:11; Matt. 4:4) If you are timid about expressing your faith to others, pray for boldness and courage to preach. (Acts 4:29) It is not a religious drudgery to be an active witness to Jehovah’s kingdom, but genuine joy comes from being a loving extrovert, cheerfully helping others on the way to life.—2 Cor. 9:7.
THE NEED FOR DIRECTION
27. (a) Is it proper in prayer to ask for miracles? (b) What can be requested?
27 In an age of growing self-indulgence, fallen moral standards, a materialistic generation, the Christian needs continual divine guidance for protection. (Jer. 10:23) We should not expect a miracle every time we pray, but it is good to ask for wisdom to cope with our problems. Our petition can be for Jehovah’s spirit too, for it guides us in the right direction, in safe paths so that we might bring our whole life pattern into conformity with God’s will for us. (Col. 3:10) God’s guidance is a supplement to and not a substitute for action on our part. An earthly father expects his son to show initiative when given a task, so God expects his people to come to him mainly with problems they cannot solve themselves. By listening to him daily we will receive wisdom to stay well within the safe bounds of his laws and Scriptural principles.—Eccl. 7:12.
28. (a) How can we be more useful to the Creator? (b) What is the advantage of meditating on God’s Word?
28 It is the course of wisdom to qualify our petitions to God: ‘If it be your will.’ (Jas. 4:13-15) If we claim to be Christian, following Christ Jesus, we should not be doing things of our own initiative that run contrary to God’s will for us. Our continual request should be to do the divine will, to be sensitive to God’s direction. If we want our prayers to be heard we must be doing the all-important will of our Father in heaven. As recorded in John 9:31, a man healed by Jesus said very fitting words along this line: “But if anyone is God-fearing and does his will, he listens to this one.” It is fine to meditate on what you study and learn from the Bible, the inspired Word of God, keeping your mind and heart filled to brimming; then out of the abundance of your heart you will witness readily to those you meet.—1 Pet. 3:15.
29. How can we aid our brothers in prayer?
29 As we approach the universal war of Armageddon it is vital to stay close to Jehovah’s mighty organization. Jehovah’s witnesses by means of 27,254 congregations throughout the world are bound together in love and unity. We should pray for that organization and those in it, that our brothers might stay solid in the faith. (1 Pet. 5:9) We would be easy targets for the Devil if we were to forsake the association of God’s people and try to go it alone.
30. Where should we remain for safety?
30 Your prayers tell how much you appreciate the organization that brought you the truth and that feeds you regularly, as through the columns of the Watchtower magazine. How foolish to wander off now to other pastures and think you can come back later if you choose to do so. One elderly brother who had been in the truth, active and busy for many years, when asked how he stayed faithful and true for so long replied to the effect that if you stay in the middle of a flock of sheep you cannot get lost. May our daily prayer be that we may also always be found in the midst of Jehovah’s people. Never be too busy to pray like that.