Be Steadfast in Prayer
“Every loyal one will pray to you.”—Ps. 32:6.
1, 2. (a) Why should one communicate with God? (b) How does one display a preference for God’s will?
IN THIS modern age the majority of persons seem to have little or no time for God. Many excuses are made as to why they do not consider him in their daily lives. However, if one claims to serve the living and true God, then one should loyally communicate with him, looking to him as the one whom to serve and obey in everything.
2 Especially after one has committed oneself to serve Jehovah God one should take prayer seriously. Rather than view it as a duty, one should enjoy it as a privilege. With a preference to the doing of God’s will and a theocratic submissiveness to it, one will pray: “Make me know your own ways, O Jehovah; teach me your own paths. Make me walk in your truth and teach me, for you are my God of salvation.”—Ps. 25:4, 5.
SINCERITY IN PRAYER
3. How can we be sincere in our requests to God?
3 Sincerity is involved in speaking with the Most High if you expect him to give attention to your requests. In all seriousness and in full possession of our senses, we must be honest in the appraisal of ourselves. To be loyal to God’s righteous ways, we will not gloss over our wrong habits or questionable attitudes. It is not possible to deceive the One with whom we have an accounting. (Heb. 4:12) It would be folly for us to pray one way and to act out of harmony with the request.
4. What should we do to please the Hearer of prayer?
4 Those who loyally observe his commandments have the assurance: “The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication; but the face of Jehovah is against those doing bad things.” (1 Pet. 3:12) If we ask for forgiveness, then we must practice forgiving, from the heart. (Matt. 18:35) If we pray for God’s kingdom, we ought to seek it first in our lives. (Matt. 6:10, 33) If we are seeking more Scriptural knowledge from God, then besides praying for it we should set aside regular times to study his Word, the Bible. Being filled with accurate knowledge, we will be helped to focus attention on the more important things, and we will have these in mind when we pray.—Phil. 1:9, 10.
UPHOLDING GOD’S WAYS
5. Describe the prayers that are not acceptable.
5 We can be sure that God will always uphold his own good name and righteous ways. He will never lower his standards to the level of those who, by their words or works, show themselves to be disloyal or wicked. Why should God pay attention to the prayers made for a pretense from hearts not in tune with him? The prayer of those who practice wickedness can “become a sin.” (Ps. 109:3-7) Those who hypocritically turn their back on God and yet pray cannot expect a favorable hearing, as shown in Proverbs 28:9: “He that is turning his ear away from hearing the law—even his prayer is something detestable.” Long prayers by boastful and proud men are also not acceptable, as explained by that authority on prayer, Christ Jesus. (Matt. 6:5, 7; Luke 18:10-14) If we do not learn to do good and to be responsive to the Word of God, then, in effect, it amounts to rejecting God’s own Word. This, in turn, would not be conducive to our having a favorable hearing of our prayers.
6. (a) How can one’s words or actions affect one’s prayers to God? (b) What should be kept honorable?
6 To cling to a fine relationship with our God and Father, we need to maintain his lofty moral standards. By one’s words and/or course of action one can show approval or disapproval of deeds of immorality or, possibly, leanings in that way. “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad. He is guarding the souls of his loyal ones,” is the counsel of Psalm 97:10. Those who come to be past all moral sense alienate themselves from God by their course of loose conduct. (Eph. 4:17-19) One’s practice of immorality or even condoning it would render one’s prayers ineffective. As an honorable person, appreciate the divine arrangement of sex and marriage and loyally uphold it so as not to block or hinder your prayers.—Heb. 13:4.
PRAYER CAN BE HINDERED
7. Describe some ways in which prayers can be hindered.
7 To keep the lines of communication open with God, it is vital for you to walk carefully in this wicked system of things. In this way you can have the confidence about which the apostle John wrote: “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) Verbal expressions carry little weight with God if our actions are not in harmony with our entreaties. By being careless one may undercut the effectiveness of one’s petitions to God. Hence, husbands are admonished: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them [your wives] according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7) This shows that even in one’s homelife one can do things that affect a favorable transmission of one’s prayers to God. This fact should alert all of us to be most sensitive to walk in the right way in every aspect of life, never presuming upon God’s mercy and compassion.
8. (a) Why must we get along well with our brothers? (b) What is it good to remember?
8 Maintaining a peaceful relationship with our Christian brothers in the congregation is vital also, as we endeavor to keep strong ties with the God we serve. If we are quick to follow the advice of Jesus in Matthew 5:23, 24, then we will not let any problem, large or small, go unresolved with our brother. If we do not straighten matters out in a Scriptural way, we must realize that it can render our prayers and sacrifices unacceptable to God. It is well to stop and think that very often Jehovah has probably been merciful and patient with us ourselves, giving us an extended opportunity to correct a wrong course or untheocratic attitude. Copying our God in this respect, we can be most helpful to others, especially those who have come into close relationship with him as our spiritual brothers. As we become doers of God’s ways, we will be happier and our prayers need not be impeded by any unthoughtful action on our part.—1 Thess. 4:1.
9. What might hinder congregation prayer?
9 In the congregation, prayer should be approached in a pure way. There should be no feeling of animosity or anger toward others. Those who are wise and understanding will cultivate a meekness that belongs to wisdom and will follow the desire of the apostle Paul: “That in every place the men carry on prayer, lifting up loyal hands, apart from wrath and debates.”—1 Tim. 2:8; Jas. 3:13, 17.
10. How do love and humility help to keep the peace in the congregation?
10 A humble brother will not fight with his Christian brothers in order to defend or establish his supposed personal rights. Even though one has the freedom to do something, care should be exercised to do only that which is upbuilding. It requires love to keep the peace, and forgiveness can be unlimited on the part of each one. (Matt. 18:21, 22) It takes humility to admit a wrong and ask forgiveness. The result of such a humble course brings peace to the individual and to the congregation. It outweighs any feelings of humiliation. It develops and strengthens a person in the fine quality of humility, which God appreciates. (1 Pet. 5:5) Feel free to seek Jehovah’s rich blessing as you Christians “let all your affairs take place with love.”—1 Cor. 16:14.
11. What is recommended to please God?
11 Just as it takes effort for us to maintain a fine relationship with those in the congregation, so we want to do all we can to allow no rupture in our treasured closeness to our Father in heaven. If we are going to please him, we need to be holy in all our conduct. (1 Pet. 1:14-16) Loyalty will motivate the Christian to avoid any tendencies to deviate from the way of the truth and become spotted with the world. When a person appreciates the all-powerfulness of God and that he is not to be trifled with and cannot be mocked, it makes him pray for Jehovah’s direction to protect him from stumbling into wrongdoing of any sort. Failure to walk in the right way in any respect can raise obstacles to offering prayer freely.—Gal. 6:7.
LOSS OF APPROACH
12. What may cause a loss of approach to God?
12 If a person feels he is losing his approach to God, if he cannot pray anymore, then he should examine his life course. There may be one fault or a range of faults from an improper outlook on life, bad standards of conduct or, possibly, something deeper, like the qualities of the heart. There may be a failing to do what one knows to be right, for God’s Word says: “If one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” (Jas. 4:17) To stay on speaking terms with God, we must avoid using our lives in activities that put us in opposition to him. It takes wisdom and discernment on our part so as not to get involved in anything that may jeopardize our standing with the God we love and worship.
13. What will cause one to shrink back from prayer?
13 A deviation to any degree from a righteous and true course can cause one to have a bad conscience and then cause a person to shrink back from praying regularly. Those who refuse to submit to God’s will or who take liberties in opposition to it are not guided by godly wisdom and hence are bound to err. When we awaken to any loss of friendship with Jehovah, it is good to examine ourselves and rectify the causes of lack of communication. One cannot be a lawgiver to oneself and also please God. Rather, those who are loyal to God can expect his help. If we have his smile of approval in all our ways we can rest assured that he will listen to our requests and reward us in his own time and way.
14. (a) How can one convey one’s thoughts in prayer? (b) How can you make a prayer your own?
14 Actually prayer is more than just talking to God. This is emphasized in the many prayers recorded in his inspired Word for our guidance. These prayers were, of course, appropriate to the time and occasion. Today the petitioner need not be bound to some wording in conveying his thoughts to God. Prayer should never become a meaningless routine nor should it be held rigidly to some favorite set of memorized words. Bible examples show that men of prayer spoke in the same everyday language they used when talking to others. There is no need to use some special vocabulary when we are speaking with God. Let your prayer be in words that express your heartfelt thoughts. Far be it from one who worships God with spirit and truth to pay someone else to pray for him or to use someone else’s prayers that are written in a book.—John 4:24.
15. When can we pray, and how should our requests be made?
15 The Model Prayer that Jesus furnished his disciples helps us to appreciate things of primary importance for us to incorporate in our prayers to the Most High. (Matt. 6:9-13) This sample prayer is marked by simplicity and so should our prayers be as we come to the One who can solve any problem we may have. Turn to him for help whenever you sense any weakening of your faith or any tendency to drift from pure worship. Throughout the day or night, in all situations or undertakings, in danger, temptation, business, travel, pleasure or sickness, be anxious to come to the listening God, the Hearer of prayer. Take full advantage of this source of strength as you carry on “every form of prayer and supplication.” (Eph. 6:18) Call out to him for favor, assistance; lift up your voice in gratitude. Remember that the author of language is not impressed by big words; just pour out your heart to him.—Ps. 62:8.
16, 17. (a) Is it good to meditate before praying? Why? (b) How can you present a coherent prayer?
16 It is profitable to meditate prior to approaching God, so that you will say what you mean to say. Having in mind fine thoughts will prevent you from rambling, or from just saying the same things over and over again in a monotonous fashion. You are not talking to a neighbor or anyone else but to the greatest one in the universe, Jehovah God himself. Acceptable prayer is addressed, not only to him, but also on right matters. Thus it is entirely appropriate to think before you pray, ponder over the more important things. In this way you can prevent your requests from degenerating into formalism or being dulled by repetition.—Matt. 6:7.
17 It may be well for you to seek out a quiet place to pray. Jesus tried to get away from people and distractions to spend time in prayer. (Mark 1:35; Luke 9:18) In quietness you can mentally review things needed, matters beneficial for yourself and those you love. Thinking before relaying your thoughts to God will aid you to present a coherent prayer.
18. (a) What quality should mark our personal prayers? (b) How can we express appreciation?
18 In your own personal prayers, come to God in a humble way, not trying to impress him or, in effect, to try telling him what to do. You should remember your littleness and humble yourself in the eyes of Jehovah. (Jas. 4:10) Whether your prayer is expressed audibly or uttered voicelessly in your heart, your feelings may be just as David’s: “Let the sayings of my mouth and the meditation of my heart become pleasurable before you, O Jehovah.” (Ps. 19:14) Not only should we present acceptable prayers but we should derive joy and refreshment from presenting our innermost thoughts to our heavenly Father. Realizing that we belong to him, we do well to acknowledge his provisions for us as well as for all other members of the human family. Wherever you turn, you see evidence of a most generous and thoughtful Creator. As recipients of God’s love and goodness, we should each one say, ‘Thank you’ loyally and regularly to him. We are encouraged to do so, in these words: “Always be rejoicing. Pray incessantly. In connection with everything give thanks.”—1 Thess. 5:16-18.
19. What should govern the contents of prayers? Give examples.
19 Your private prayer may embrace any facet of life. Sometimes it may be that God’s own inspired Word will best convey your thoughts as you reflect on certain Scripture texts. It is the accurate knowledge of God’s will that should govern the contents of prayer, for Jehovah cannot work against his own purposes, despite your requests. If you are loyal to Jehovah’s sovereignty, then his name should have a place in your petitions as well as in your life. Other related fundamental matters of importance are incorporated in the prayer that Jesus lovingly gave his disciples: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” The other items mentioned in the prayer relate to the petitioner’s desire to live in God’s favor.—Matt. 6:9-13.
20. Why is it good to ask for God’s spirit?
20 Among the things you can appropriately ask for is God’s spirit. This active force motivates one to go in the right way, God’s way. (Luke 11:13) If it is your aim to be most useful to your God and his Son Jesus Christ, then you will continue to ask for divine direction to accomplish the most good in the expenditure of your resources. Truly living a dedicated life means buying out the opportune time for ourselves. (Eph. 5:15, 16) One dedicated Christian expressed herself in this way: “I ask Jehovah to let me realize whenever I am wrong or out of line as a Christian.” He who knows the secrets of the heart will discern if we keenly recognize the need for complete dependence on him so that we, like Christ Jesus, can make our way successful.—Ps. 44:21; compare Joshua 1:8.
21. Name some of God’s interests and your own interests for which to pray.
21 Your thinking of all the reasons why you must keep praying and also your considering all the necessary things to pray about will move you to do so. “Be persevering in prayer, remaining awake in it with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2) Continue to pray about your mistakes, problems, needs for the day, a crisis that may arise in your life, your feelings, your joys and disappointments and frustrations. Pray that you might have added strength to keep on as a loyal and devoted worshiper of the true God despite the pressures of daily living. With the emphasis on our getting the Kingdom good news preached, keep it before you as a matter of petition and ask that you too might brace up your mind for zealous activity. (Matt. 24:14; 1 Pet. 1:13) By your focusing your thoughts on God’s interests, as well as your own, it will keep you alert to praise and magnify his name and faithfully recommend his worship to others. Do not forget what you can do for others, and ask that Jehovah may bless them as they also endeavor to worship and serve him.—Heb. 13:15, 16.
22. Describe the benefits of family prayer.
22 It is beautiful to see a family praying together at mealtimes and at other times, such as when they are enjoying spiritual food. Family prayer can be a wonderful blessing to a home, promoting obedience, order and decency in family life. The family is God’s arrangement, and his guidance should be sought on it. All members of a family can learn to pray. No doubt Jesus, when very young, was taught to kneel and pray in his home. When he grew up, he thoroughly appreciated prayer; in fact, he was instrumental in teaching others how to pray properly. (Matt. 21:13; Luke 11:1) In their childlike simplicity children can be taught how to speak reverently to their Father in heaven, expressing gratefulness for the life they enjoy and for having ahead the hope of a paradise earth under the kingdom of God. Young and old people alike can form the prayer habit, which they can carry with them anywhere and everywhere, under whatever circumstances they are.
23, 24. (a) How is prayer used at meeting times? (b) What are some things that might be prayed for on these occasions?
23 Christian meetings are usually opened and closed with prayer, for all those assembled look to their Grand Instructor as the source of their teaching. Here again it is proper for the one representing the congregation before God to think carefully before he prays in behalf of those present. There can be a request for divine blessing at the opening of the meeting and, at the close, a note of thanksgiving for what has been learned and enjoyed. Appropriate words should be expressed by the one praying, keeping in mind the purpose of the prayer and the occasion at hand.
24 Much can be said in a few words, as demonstrated in the Model Prayer at Matthew 6:9-13. When praying, think! What does this congregation need? Request can be made about the witness work in the area, in substance that the brothers may present the message effectively and become adept at teaching Bible truth. As in personal prayer, variety can be employed as to the content of the united public petition, with a wide range of applicable thoughts. For the congregation to prosper and for love to abound, prayer is a divine provision, just as is regular association with those of like precious faith. All assembled should hear the prayer clearly so that they may say “Amen” at the conclusion.—1 Cor. 14:16.
25. In what does Jehovah delight?
25 It is wonderful to observe people of all races accepting the invitation to come to the Hearer of prayer. As a generous Father, he takes delight in rewarding those who loyally serve him. “Jehovah himself will not hold back anything good from those walking in faultlessness.” (Ps. 84:11) All who express faith with a hope of everlasting life can address him as Father and expect his smile of approval as they ask according to his will.
26. What should all of us be fond of if we expect our prayers to be heard?
26 With full expectation that God will lend a sympathetic ear to our thoughts in prayer, we must likewise be fond of what he has communicated to us in writing, his Holy Bible. As we absorb more and more of Jehovah’s thoughts and ways, we will have a deeper insight into the One to serve and obey, and we will appreciate to the full the fine relationship possible with him and his Son, our channel of communication. No matter what progress you have already made in molding your life into conformity to God’s will, keep on asking for the help and guidance that come from above. Whether you kneel by your bedside or pray along the way, whether you ask for help early in the morning or late at night, rest assured that the Maker of the ear can hear your prayer.—Ps. 119:62, 147.
27. What joy can there be, and for whom?
27 What greater joy could there be than to have an answer to a prayer? Whether you get an instant answer or wait until God’s due time, never lose faith in the power of prayer. Every loyal one will be steadfast in prayer, daily enjoying rich blessings in gratitude and looking forward to everlasting friendship with the Hearer of prayer.
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Does your family regularly pray together?
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Do not forget to ask God’s blessing when studying his Word
It is good to thank God each day for his many kindnesses
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When under pressure, do you ask God for help to keep calm?