Jehovah’s Spirit Leads His People
“Your spirit is good; may it lead me in the land of uprightness.”—PSALM 143:10.
1, 2. What may cause distress for Jehovah’s loyal servants?
‘I FEEL so depressed! Where can I find some comfort? Has God abandoned me?’ Do you ever feel that way? If you do, you are not alone. Although Jehovah’s loyal servants reside in the flourishing spiritual paradise, they sometimes face distressing problems, trials, and temptations common to mankind.—1 Corinthians 10:13.
2 Perhaps you are beset by some long-lasting trial or cause of great stress. You may be grieving over the death of a loved one and may feel so alone. Or your heart may be troubled by the illness of a dear friend. Such circumstances may be robbing you of joy and peace and may even be threatening your faith. What should you do?
Ask God for His Spirit
3. If something is robbing you of such qualities as peace and joy, what would it be wise to do?
3 If something is robbing you of peace, joy, or some other godly quality, it would be wise to pray for God’s holy spirit, or active force. Why? Because Jehovah’s spirit produces good fruitage that helps a Christian to face problems, trials, and temptations. After warning against “the works of the flesh,” the apostle Paul wrote: “On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”—Galatians 5:19-23.
4. When confronted by some trial or temptation, why might it be appropriate to be specific in one’s prayers?
4 Because of the kind of trial you are facing, you may realize that you are in danger of losing your mildness, or mild temper. Then be specific by praying to Jehovah God for the spirit’s fruit of mildness. If you are faced with some temptation, you especially need the fruit of self-control. Of course, it would also be appropriate to pray for divine help in resisting the temptation, for deliverance from Satan, and for the wisdom needed to endure the trial.—Matthew 6:13; James 1:5, 6.
5. If circumstances are so distressing that you do not know which fruit of the spirit to pray for, what can be done?
5 At times, however, circumstances may be so distressing or confusing that you do not know which fruit of the spirit you need. In fact, joy, peace, mildness, and other godly qualities may all be imperiled. What then? Why not ask God for the holy spirit itself and let it cause the needed fruits to flourish in your case? The necessary fruits may be love or joy or peace or a combination of the spirit’s fruits. Also pray that God help you to yield to the direction of his spirit, for he uses it to lead his people.
Jehovah Is Willing to Help
6. How did Jesus impress his followers with the need to pray without ceasing?
6 When disciples of Jesus Christ sought instruction on prayer, in part he urged them to pray for God’s spirit. Jesus first used an illustration designed to move them to pray without ceasing. He said: “Who of you will have a friend and will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves, because a friend of mine has just come to me on a journey and I have nothing to set before him’? And that one from inside says in reply, ‘Quit making me trouble. The door is already locked, and my young children are with me in bed; I cannot rise up and give you anything.’ I tell you, Although he will not rise up and give him anything because of being his friend, certainly because of his bold persistence he will get up and give him what things he needs.”—Luke 11:5-8.
7. What is the essence of Jesus’ words at Luke 11:11-13, and what assurance do they give us regarding God and his spirit?
7 Jehovah is willing to help every one of his faithful dedicated servants, and he listens to their requests. But if such a person ‘keeps on asking,’ as Jesus urged, this indicates heartfelt desire and is a display of faith. (Luke 11:9, 10) Christ added: “Indeed, which father is there among you who, if his son asks for a fish, will perhaps hand him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he also asks for an egg, will hand him a scorpion? Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:11-13) If an earthly parent, though being more or less wicked because of inherited sinfulness, gives good things to his child, surely our heavenly Father will continue to give his holy spirit to any one of his loyal servants who humbly asks for it.
8. How does Psalm 143:10 apply to David, Jesus, and God’s modern-day servants?
8 To benefit from God’s spirit, we must be as willing to follow its lead as David was. He prayed: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Your spirit is good; may it lead me in the land of uprightness.” (Psalm 143:10) David, who had been outlawed by Israelite king Saul, wanted God’s spirit to lead him so that he would be sure his course was upright. In time Abiathar came with a priest’s ephod used in ascertaining God’s will. As God’s priestly representative, Abiathar instructed David as to the way to go in order to please Jehovah. (1 Samuel 22:17–23:12; 30:6-8) Like David, Jesus was led by Jehovah’s spirit, and this has also been true of Christ’s anointed followers as a class. In 1918-19, they were in an alienated position before human society, and their religious enemies thought they could destroy them. The anointed prayed for a way out of their inactive state, and in 1919, God answered their prayers, delivered them, and reactivated them in his service. (Psalm 143:7-9) Surely, Jehovah’s spirit was then helping and leading his people, as it does to this very day.
How the Spirit Helps
9. (a) How does the holy spirit serve as a “helper”? (b) How do we know that the holy spirit is not a person? (See footnote.)
9 Jesus Christ called the holy spirit a “helper.” For instance, he told his followers: “I will request the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it. You know it, because it remains with you and is in you.” Among other things, that “helper” would be a teacher, for Christ promised: “The helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.” The spirit would also bear witness about Christ, and he assured his disciples: “It is for your benefit I am going away. For if I do not go away, the helper will by no means come to you; but if I do go my way, I will send him to you.”—John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:7.*
10. In what ways has the holy spirit proved to be a helper?
10 From heaven, Jesus poured out the promised holy spirit upon his followers on the day of Pentecost in 33 C.E. (Acts 1:4, 5; 2:1-11) As a helper, the spirit gave them increased understanding of God’s will and purpose and opened up his prophetic Word to them. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; Colossians 1:9, 10; Hebrews 9:8-10) That helper also empowered Jesus’ disciples to be witnesses in all the earth. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 3:5, 6) Today, the holy spirit can help a dedicated Christian to grow in knowledge if he avails himself of the spiritual provisions made by God through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) God’s spirit can provide help by supplying the courage and strength needed to bear witness as one of Jehovah’s servants. (Matthew 10:19, 20; Acts 4:29-31) However, the holy spirit also helps God’s people in other ways.
“With Groanings Unuttered”
11. If a trial seems overwhelming, what should a Christian do?
11 If a Christian is beset by a trial that seems overwhelming, what should he do? Why, pray for holy spirit, and let it do its work! “The spirit also joins in with help for our weakness,” said Paul, “for the problem of what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered. Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones.”—Romans 8:26, 27.
12, 13. (a) How does Romans 8:26, 27 apply to prayers offered in especially trying situations? (b) What did Paul and his associates do when they were under extreme pressure in the district of Asia?
12 Those holy ones for whom God’s spirit pleads are Jesus’ anointed followers, with a heavenly hope. But whether you have a heavenly calling or an earthly hope, as a Christian you can have the help of God’s holy spirit. Jehovah sometimes gives a direct answer to a specific prayer. At times, however, you may be so distressed that you are unable to put your feelings into words and may only be able to beseech Jehovah with unspoken groanings. In fact, you may not know what is best for you and might even ask for the wrong thing unless you pray for holy spirit. God knows that you want his will to be done, and he is aware of what you really need. Moreover, by means of his holy spirit, he caused many prayers to be recorded in his Word, and these deal with trying situations. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:21) Hence, Jehovah can look upon certain sentiments expressed in such inspired prayers as being expressions you would like to make as one of his servants, and he can answer them in your behalf.
13 Paul and his associates may not have known what to pray for when experiencing tribulation in the district of Asia. Being ‘under extreme pressure beyond their strength, they felt within themselves that they had received the sentence of death.’ But they sought the supplications of others and trusted in God, who can raise the dead, and he did rescue them. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11) How comforting it is that Jehovah God hears and acts on the prayers of his faithful servants!
14. What good may result if Jehovah permits a trial to continue for some time?
14 God’s people are often beset by trials as an organization. As noted earlier, they were persecuted during World War I. Though they did not then have a clear understanding of their position and therefore did not know exactly what to pray for, Jehovah’s Word contained prophetic prayers that he answered in their behalf. (Psalms 69, 102, 126; Isaiah, chapter 12) But what if Jehovah permits a trial to continue for some time? This may result in a witness, may move some to embrace the truth, and affords Christians opportunity to show brotherly love by praying for or otherwise helping suffering fellow believers. (John 13:34, 35; 2 Corinthians 1:11) Remember that Jehovah leads his people by means of his holy spirit, does what is best for them, and always works matters out in a way that will honor and sanctify his holy name.—Exodus 9:16; Matthew 6:9.
Never Grieve the Spirit
15. Christians can rely on Jehovah’s spirit to do what in their behalf?
15 If you are a servant of Jehovah, therefore, pray for holy spirit during trials and at other times. Then be sure to follow its guidance, for Paul wrote: “Do not be grieving God’s holy spirit, with which you have been sealed for a day of releasing by ransom.” (Ephesians 4:30) God’s spirit was and is a seal, or a ‘token of what was to come,’ for faithful anointed Christians—that is, immortal heavenly life. (2 Corinthians 1:22; Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; Revelation 2:10) Both anointed Christians and those with an earthly hope can rely on Jehovah’s spirit to do much in their behalf. It can direct them in a life of faithfulness and help them to avoid sinful works that lead to God’s disapproval, loss of his holy spirit, and failure to gain eternal life.—Galatians 5:19-21.
16, 17. How might a Christian grieve the spirit?
16 How might a Christian, either knowingly or unknowingly, grieve the spirit? Well, Jehovah uses his spirit to promote unity and to appoint responsible men in the congregation. Therefore, if a member of the congregation were to murmur against the appointed elders, spread slanderous gossip, and so forth, he would not be following the leadings of God’s spirit toward peace and unity. In a general way, he would be grieving the spirit.—1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:1-4, 16, 17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13; Jude 16.
17 In writing to Christians in Ephesus, Paul warned against tendencies toward falsehood, sustained wrathfulness, stealing, unsuitable speech, prurient interest in fornication, shameful conduct, and obscene jesting. If a Christian allowed himself to drift toward such things, he would be going against the Bible’s spirit-inspired counsel. (Ephesians 4:17-29; 5:1-5) Yes, and to a degree he would thus be grieving God’s spirit.
18. What can happen to any Christian who begins to ignore the counsel of God’s spirit-inspired Word?
18 Actually, any Christian who begins to ignore the counsel of Jehovah’s spirit-inspired Word may start to develop attitudes or traits that could result in willful sin and the loss of divine favor. Though he might not be practicing sin at the moment, he could be heading in that direction. Such a Christian going contrary to the leading of the spirit would be grieving it. He would thus also be resisting and grieving Jehovah, the Source of holy spirit. Never would a lover of God want to do that!
Keep On Praying for Holy Spirit
19. Why do Jehovah’s people especially need his spirit today?
19 If you are a servant of Jehovah, continue to pray for his holy spirit. Especially in these “last days,” with their critical times so hard to deal with, do Christians need the help of God’s spirit. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) The Devil and his demons, ousted from heaven and now in the vicinity of the earth, are on a rampage against Jehovah’s organization. Hence, now more than ever before, God’s people need his holy spirit to lead, or guide, them and enable them to endure hardships and persecution.—Revelation 12:7-12.
20, 21. Why follow the direction of Jehovah’s Word, spirit, and organization?
20 Always show appreciation for the help Jehovah God provides by means of his holy spirit. Follow the direction of his spirit-inspired Word, the Bible. Cooperate fully with God’s spirit-led earthly organization. Never allow yourself to veer off on an unscriptural course that would amount to grieving the holy spirit, for this might eventually lead to the withdrawal of it and thus to spiritual disaster.—Psalm 51:11.
21 Being led by Jehovah’s spirit is the only way to please him and have a peaceful, joyous life. Remember, too, that Jesus called the holy spirit a “helper,” or “comforter.” (John 14:16, footnote) By means of it, God comforts Christians and fortifies them to face their trials. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) The spirit empowers Jehovah’s people to preach the good news and helps them to recall Scriptural points needed to give a fine witness. (Luke 12:11, 12; John 14:25, 26; Acts 1:4-8; 5:32) Through prayer and the spirit’s guidance, Christians can meet tests of faith with heavenly wisdom. In all of life’s circumstances, therefore, they keep on praying for God’s holy spirit. As a result, Jehovah’s spirit leads his people.
Though personified as a “helper,” the holy spirit is not a person, for a Greek neuter pronoun (rendered “it”) is applied to the spirit. Hebrew feminine pronouns are similarly applied to wisdom personified. (Proverbs 1:20-33; 8:1-36) Moreover, the holy spirit was “poured out,” which cannot be done with a person.—Acts 2:33.
What Are Your Answers?
□ Why pray for Jehovah’s holy spirit?
□ How is the holy spirit a helper?
□ What does it mean to grieve the spirit, and how can we avoid doing so?
□ Why keep on praying for holy spirit and following its lead?
[Picture on page 15]
As a loving father gives good things to his son, so Jehovah gives holy spirit to his servants who pray for it
[Picture on page 17]
Do you know how God’s spirit pleads for prayerful Christians?