What Do Your Prayers Say About You?
“O Hearer of prayer, even to you people of all flesh will come.”—PS. 65:2.
1, 2. Why can Jehovah’s servants confidently turn to him in prayer?
JEHOVAH never turns a deaf ear to the petitions of his faithful servants. We can be confident that he hears us. Even if millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses were to pray to God at the same time, not one would get a ‘busy signal.’
2 Confident that God heard his entreaties, the psalmist David sang: “O Hearer of prayer, even to you people of all flesh will come.” (Ps. 65:2) David’s prayers were answered because he was a loyal worshipper of Jehovah. We might well ask ourselves: ‘Do my supplications show that I trust in Jehovah and that pure worship is of prime concern to me? What do my prayers say about me?’
Approach Jehovah With Humility
3, 4. (a) With what attitude should we approach God in prayer? (b) What should we do if we are troubled by “disquieting thoughts” regarding serious sin?
3 If our prayers are to be answered, we must approach God with humility. (Ps. 138:6) We should ask Jehovah to examine us, as David did when he said: “Search through me, O God, and know my heart. Examine me, and know my disquieting thoughts, and see whether there is in me any painful way, and lead me in the way of time indefinite.” (Ps. 139:23, 24) Let us not only pray but also submit to God’s examination and the counsel of his Word. Jehovah can lead us in “the way of time indefinite,” helping us to pursue a course leading to everlasting life.
4 What if we are plagued by “disquieting thoughts” regarding a serious sin? (Read Psalm 32:1-5.) Trying to repress a guilty conscience can sap us of vigor, even as a tree loses moisture in summer’s intense heat. Because of his sin, David lost his joy and may have become ill. But what relief confession to God brought him! Imagine David’s joy when he felt that ‘his revolt had been pardoned’ and Jehovah had forgiven him. Confessing sin to God can bring relief, and the aid of Christian elders will also help to restore an erring person’s spiritual health.—Prov. 28:13; Jas. 5:13-16.
Supplicate God and Thank Him
5. What does it mean to supplicate Jehovah?
5 If anxiety has a grip on us for any reason, we should apply Paul’s counsel: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6) “To supplicate” means “to make a humble entreaty.” Especially during danger or persecution should we beseech Jehovah for help and guidance.
6, 7. For what reasons should thanksgiving be included in our prayers?
6 If we prayed only when we needed something, however, what would that reveal about our motives? Paul said that we should make our petitions known to God “along with thanksgiving.” We certainly have reason to express sentiments like those of David: “Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the excellency and the dignity; for everything in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah, the One also lifting yourself up as head over all. . . . O our God, we are thanking you and praising your beauteous name.”—1 Chron. 29:11-13.
7 Jesus thanked God for food and for the bread and wine used at the Lord’s Evening Meal. (Matt. 15:36; Mark 14:22, 23) Besides expressing similar gratitude, we should “give thanks to Jehovah” for “his wonderful works to the sons of men,” for his “righteous judicial decisions,” and for his word, or message, now available in the Bible.—Ps. 107:15; 119:62, 105.
Pray for Others
8, 9. Why should we pray for fellow Christians?
8 We undoubtedly pray for ourselves, but our prayers ought to include others—even Christians we do not know by name. Though the apostle Paul may not have known all the believers in Colossae, he wrote: “We thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ always when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in connection with Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the holy ones.” (Col. 1:3, 4) Paul also prayed for Christians in Thessalonica. (2 Thess. 1:11, 12) Prayers of that kind say much about us and how we view our brothers and sisters in the faith.
9 Our prayers for anointed Christians and for their “other sheep” companions give evidence of our concern for God’s organization. (John 10:16) Paul asked fellow worshippers to pray so that ‘ability to speak might be given him to make known the sacred secret of the good news.’ (Eph. 6:17-20) Do we personally pray for other Christians in that way?
10. Praying for others may have what effect on us?
10 Praying for others may change our attitude toward them. If we are not particularly fond of a person but we pray for him, how can we be unloving toward that person? (1 John 4:20, 21) Prayers of this kind are upbuilding and promote unity with our brothers. Moreover, such prayers indicate that we have Christlike love. (John 13:34, 35) That quality is part of the fruitage of God’s spirit. Do we individually pray for holy spirit, asking Jehovah to help us display its fruitage of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control? (Luke 11:13; Gal. 5:22, 23) If so, our words and deeds will show that we are walking and living by spirit.—Read Galatians 5:16, 25.
11. Why would you say that it is proper to ask others to pray for us?
11 If we learn that our children are being tempted to cheat on tests at school, we should pray for them and also give them Scriptural help so that they will act honestly and will not do anything wrong. Paul told Christians in Corinth: “We pray to God that you may do nothing wrong.” (2 Cor. 13:7) Humble prayers of that kind please Jehovah and speak well of us. (Read Proverbs 15:8.) We can ask that others pray for us, even as the apostle Paul did. “Carry on prayer for us,” he wrote, “for we trust we have an honest conscience, as we wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.”—Heb. 13:18.
Our Prayers Say Even More
12. What should be significant features of our prayers?
12 Do our prayers say that we are happy and zealous Witnesses of Jehovah? Are our supplications focused chiefly on compliance with God’s will, the preaching of the Kingdom message, the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty, and the sanctification of his name? These should be significant features of our prayers, as indicated by Jesus’ model prayer, which begins with the words: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matt. 6:9, 10.
13, 14. Our prayers reveal what about us?
13 Our prayers to God reveal our motives, interests, and desires. Jehovah knows what we are inside. Says Proverbs 17:3: “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but Jehovah is the examiner of hearts.” God sees what is in our heart. (1 Sam. 16:7) He knows how we feel about our meetings, our ministry, and our spiritual brothers and sisters. Jehovah is aware of what we think of Christ’s “brothers.” (Matt. 25:40) He knows whether we really desire what we pray for or we are merely repeating a set of words. “When praying,” said Jesus, “do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they [wrongly] imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words.”—Matt. 6:7.
14 Our expressions in prayer also reveal how much we rely on God. “You [Jehovah] have proved to be a refuge for me,” said David, “a strong tower in the face of the enemy. I will be a guest in your tent for times indefinite; I will take refuge in the concealment of your wings.” (Ps. 61:3, 4) When God figuratively ‘spreads his tent over us,’ we enjoy security and his protective care. (Rev. 7:15) How comforting it is to draw close to Jehovah in prayer with the conviction that he is ‘on our side’ during any test of our faith!—Read Psalm 118:5-9.
15, 16. Prayer may help us to discern what about our desire to reach out for service privileges?
15 Honest prayer to Jehovah regarding our motives can help us to discern the truth about them. For instance, is eagerness to serve in a position of oversight among God’s people really a humble desire to be helpful and to do the most we can for the advancement of Kingdom interests? Or could it be that we want to have “the first place” or even wish to “lord it over” others? That is not the way things are to be among Jehovah’s people. (Read 3 John 9, 10; Luke 22:24-27.) If we have wrong desires, honesty in praying to Jehovah God can expose them and help us to change before they become firmly entrenched.
16 Christian wives may have a keen desire that their husbands serve as ministerial servants and perhaps eventually as overseers, or elders. These sisters may work along with the feelings they express in their private prayers by striving to conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. This is important, for the speech and conduct of a man’s family have a bearing on how he is viewed in the congregation.
Representing Others in Public Prayer
17. Why is solitude desirable when we pray privately?
17 Jesus often withdrew from the crowds in order to pray to his Father privately. (Matt. 14:13; Luke 5:16; 6:12) We have the same need for solitude. In calm prayer under peaceful conditions, we are likely to make decisions that please Jehovah and are in our best spiritual interests. However, Jesus also prayed publicly, and it is good to consider how this can be done in a proper manner.
18. What are some points that brothers should keep in mind when representing a congregation in public prayer?
18 At our meetings, loyal men represent the congregation in public prayer. (1 Tim. 2:8) Fellow believers should be able to say “amen,” meaning “so be it,” at the end of such a prayer. To do so, however, they must agree with what was said. There is nothing shocking or tactless about Jesus’ model prayer. (Luke 11:2-4) Moreover, he did not itemize all the needs or problems of each person in his audience. Personal concerns are suitable subjects for private, not public, prayer. And when representing a group in prayer, we should refrain from including confidential matters.
19. How should we comport ourselves during public prayer?
19 When we are being represented in public prayer, we need to display reverential “fear of God.” (1 Pet. 2:17) There may be a proper time and place for some actions that would be inappropriate at a Christian meeting. (Eccl. 3:1) For instance, suppose someone sought to have all in a group link arms or hold hands during such a prayer. This might offend or distract some, including visitors who do not share our beliefs. Some marriage mates might discreetly hold hands, but if they embraced each other during public prayer, those who got a glimpse of such conduct might be stumbled. They might think or get the impression that the couple was focusing on their romantic relationship instead of reverence for Jehovah. Out of deep respect for him, let us therefore “do all things for God’s glory” and avoid conduct that could distract, shock, or stumble anyone.—1 Cor. 10:31, 32; 2 Cor. 6:3.
Pray for What?
20. How would you explain Romans 8:26, 27?
20 At times, we may not know what to say in our private prayers. “The problem of what we should pray for as we need to we do not know,” wrote Paul, “but the [holy] spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered. Yet he [God] who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is.” (Rom. 8:26, 27) Jehovah caused many prayers to be recorded in the Scriptures. He accepts these inspired petitions as requests we would like to make and therefore fulfills them. God knows us and the meaning of the things he caused his spirit to speak through the Bible writers. Jehovah answers our supplications when the spirit “pleads,” or intercedes, for us. But as we become better acquainted with God’s Word, what we should pray for may more readily come to mind.
21. What will we examine in the next article?
21 As we have noted, our prayers do say much about us. For instance, they may reveal how close we have drawn to Jehovah and how well we know his Word. (Jas. 4:8) In the next article, we will examine some prayers and prayerful expressions recorded in the Bible. What effect is such an examination of the Scriptures likely to have on our approach to God in prayer?
How Would You Answer?
• With what attitude should we approach Jehovah in prayer?
• Why should we pray for fellow believers?
• Our prayers may reveal what about us and our motives?
• How should we comport ourselves during public prayer?
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Do you regularly praise and thank Jehovah?
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Our demeanor during public prayer should always honor Jehovah