Questions From Readers
◼ Are there things that we should avoid saying when we pray to Jehovah?
Yes, there are. We should avoid saying things in our prayers that sound overly familiar and suggest to others (in public prayers) that we are being disrespectful. Such expressions as “Good afternoon, Jehovah” and “Give our love to Jesus” are not fitting, nor are humorous comments or even jokes in our prayers. Why?
For one reason, when such expressions are used in public prayer, they are likely to shock or offend those listening. (Romans 14:21) But there is a deeper reason why like expressions should be avoided, even in our private prayers. These are expressions that we use in conversation between equals. When used in prayer, they suggest a lack of reverence and respect, and they give the impression that the one thus praying has forgotten his total insignificance in comparison with Jehovah.—Genesis 18:27; compare Luke 18:9-14.
It is true that Christians are encouraged to develop a close relationship with Jehovah. We love him and he is our heavenly Father. (Matthew 6:9; 22:37) In fact, some humans may be called his friends. (James 2:23) Additionally, we are invited to speak to Jehovah with freeness of speech and to express our deepest thoughts and most intimate problems to him.—Psalm 55:1, 2; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 3:21, 22.
Nevertheless, Jehovah demands a proper attitude from those who approach him. He said: “To this one, then, I shall look, to the one afflicted and contrite in spirit and trembling at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2) Earnestness of heart is also a requirement. “Come back to me with all your hearts,” Jehovah said to his people. (Joel 2:12, 13) Before him we have no claim of merit, no reason to presume, no right to demand.
The Bible gives this further counsel to those who pray to Jehovah: “Let men fear him. He does not regard any who are wise in their own heart.” “The desire of those fearing him he will perform, and their cry for help he will hear, and he will save them.” (Job 37:24; Psalm 145:19; see also Psalm 39:5, 12.) Hence, while Jehovah is always ready to listen to our prayers, the way we address him should show our sense of our own unworthiness, as well as our great respect for him. Any other approach would suggest presumptuousness, lack of humility, or lack of seriousness.
Sometimes children in their prayers use very familiar expressions that cause even their parents to smile. Such expressions are an appealing demonstration of childish innocence and show how real Jehovah is to them. Nevertheless, adults, with their greater realization of what is involved, should avoid levity. They ought to approach Jehovah earnestly, reverently, humbly, with dignity and seriousness.—1 Corinthians 13:11.