Why Should You Pray?
“YOU do ask, and yet you do not receive, because you are asking for a wrong purpose . . . Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” (James 4:3, 8) Those words of Jesus’ disciple James may well prompt us to consider our reasons for praying.
Prayer is not just a means of telling God what we need. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Your Father knows what things you are needing before ever you ask him.” Yet, Jesus also said: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you.” (Matthew 6:8; 7:7) So Jehovah does want us to tell him what we feel we need. But there is much more to prayer than that.
True friends do not communicate only when they need something. They are interested in each other, and their friendship grows when they express their feelings. Similarly, prayer has a greater purpose than merely asking for necessities. It affords opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Jehovah by expressing our heartfelt devotion to him.
Yes, God has granted us the privilege of prayer so that we might draw close to him. This can happen only if we express our own feelings to God instead of reciting memorized prayers. What a delight it is to talk to Jehovah in prayer! Moreover, a Bible proverb says: “The prayer of the upright ones is a pleasure to him.”—Proverbs 15:8.
“As for me, the drawing near to God is good for me,” sang the psalmist Asaph. (Psalm 73:28) But to draw near to God, we must do more than pray. Notice how the following account indicates this:
“A certain one of [Jesus’] disciples said to him: ‘Lord, teach us how to pray.’” In reply Jesus said: “Whenever you pray, say, ‘Father, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come.’” (Luke 11:1, 2) Could we pray meaningfully in this way without first learning what God’s name is and how it will be sanctified? And could we pray in harmony with these words of Jesus if we did not understand what God’s Kingdom is? An understanding of these matters is available if we examine the Bible carefully. The knowledge thus gained will help us to know God and understand his ways. Furthermore, becoming acquainted with Jehovah God will make us feel closer and more devoted to him. In turn, this will help us to speak to him more freely in prayer.
Prayer Can Solve Problems
Developing a close relationship with Jehovah will help us to solve problems. Notice how this was so in each of the following circumstances. They illustrate that those praying were able to strengthen their relationship with Jehovah.
In Brazil a woman named Maria prayed to God for help. She had wanted to rebel against accepted standards of conduct partly because of the hypocrisy she saw in society. Maria had even left her husband, children, and home. She also started to use drugs. But when she failed to find happiness, she opened her heart to God and prayed for help.
Soon, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses called and left with Maria an issue of The Watchtower containing material on the value of accepting divine guidance. It touched her heart, and she began studying the Bible with the Witnesses that very day. This ultimately led to the restoration of her family life. As she learned about Jehovah, she wanted to express her love for him. “I made changes for the better,” said Maria. “My husband and family at first objected to my study of the Bible. But as they saw the changes I was making, they began to encourage me.” Later, Maria dedicated her life to the Hearer of prayer in order to serve him.
Although José had a beautiful wife and a thriving business in Bolivia, he was unhappy. An extramarital affair caused his wife to leave him. He drank excessively and felt useless. Says José: “I began praying with all my heart, asking what I should do to please God. Soon Jehovah’s Witnesses visited my business place offering free home Bible studies, but I dismissed them. This happened three times. Every time I prayed for help, there they were. Finally, I resolved that I would listen the next time. I had read the Bible through and had many questions, but they always had answers that satisfied me. Learning about Jehovah gave me a new purpose in life, and my friends among the Witnesses were such encouraging examples! I left my girlfriend and my drinking companions. Before long, I was back with my wife and children. I was baptized early in 1999.”
In Italy, Tamara’s marriage was in trouble, so she prayed for wisdom. She had developed an aggressive attitude, having been beaten and thrown out of the family at age 14. Says Tamara: “I found a Bible and began to read it. One evening, I read that ‘finding wisdom is like finding hidden treasures.’ I prayed for that wisdom. (Proverbs 2:1-6) The next morning, Jehovah’s Witnesses called. I began studying the Bible with them, but it took me some time to put what I learned into practice. Finally, I decided to follow the Christian way of life and was baptized. Now, along with my husband, I help others to benefit from God’s wisdom.”
Beatriz had been part of high society in Caracas, Venezuela. Yet, she found herself divorced and distressed. Desperate, she once spent hours in prayer. The next morning, the doorbell rang. Irritated, she looked through the peephole and saw two people with briefcases. She pretended not to be at home, but before the couple left, they pushed a handbill under the door. “Know Your Bible,” it said. Could their visit be connected with her prayers the night before? She called for them to come back. Soon she was studying the Bible, and she later was baptized. Happy at last, Beatriz now teaches others about how to find happiness.
Carmen prayed concerning her struggle with poverty. She had ten children and a drunken husband, Rafael. “I tried to earn money washing clothes,” said Carmen. But Rafael’s drinking habit got worse. “It wasn’t until we began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses that my husband began to change. We learned of the Kingdom promise—that Jehovah will soon rid the world of poverty and oppression. My prayers to God were finally answered!” Learning about Jehovah’s ways helped Rafael to stop drinking, and he put on “the new personality.” (Ephesians 4:24) He and his family were able to improve their standard of living. Says Rafael: “We may not be rich, and we do not own our own home, but we have the necessities of life, and we are happy.”
When All Prayers Will Be Answered
Did praying do these people any good? Certainly! And did you notice that in most cases their prayers were answered when someone from the Christian congregation helped them to draw close to Jehovah God by studying the Bible?—Acts 9:11.
So, then, we have good reasons to pray. Soon now, the prayer for God’s Kingdom to come and for his will to be done on earth will be answered. (Matthew 6:10) After God has cleansed our globe of those who oppose him, “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 11:9) Then all those who love Jehovah will enjoy “the glorious freedom of the children of God”—and their prayers certainly will be answered.—Romans 8:18-21.
[Picture on page 7]
Do you know why we should pray?