Enrich Your Prayers Through Bible Study
“Ah, Jehovah, please, let your ear become attentive to the prayer of your servant.”—NEH. 1:11.
1, 2. Why will it be beneficial to consider some prayers recorded in the Bible?
PRAYER and Bible study are essential features of true worship. (1 Thess. 5:17; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Of course, the Bible is not a prayer book. Yet, it does contain numerous prayers, including many found in the book of Psalms.
2 As you read and study the Bible, you are likely to find prayers that fit situations you encounter. In fact, when you incorporate prayerful thoughts recorded in the Scriptures, your prayers are enriched. What can you learn from those whose pleas for help were answered and from the content of their prayers?
Seek and Follow God’s Guidance
3, 4. What was the mission of Abraham’s servant, and what can be learned from the outcome that Jehovah gave?
3 Bible study makes it evident that you should always pray for God’s guidance. Consider what happened when the patriarch Abraham sent his eldest servant—likely Eliezer—to Mesopotamia to obtain a God-fearing wife for Isaac. As women drew water at a certain well, the servant prayed: “Jehovah . . . , what must occur is that the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Let your water jar down, please, that I may take a drink,’ and who will indeed say, ‘Take a drink, and I shall also water your camels,’ this is the one you must assign to your servant, to Isaac; and by this let me know that you have performed loyal love with my master.”—Gen. 24:12-14.
4 The prayer of Abraham’s servant was answered when Rebekah watered his camels. She soon accompanied him to Canaan and became Isaac’s beloved wife. Of course, you cannot expect God to give you a special sign. Yet, he will guide you in life if you pray and are determined to be led by his spirit.—Gal. 5:18.
Prayer Helps to Allay Anxiety
5, 6. What is noteworthy about Jacob’s prayer when he was about to meet Esau?
5 Prayer can reduce anxiety. Fearing danger from his twin brother, Esau, Jacob prayed: “O Jehovah, . . . I am unworthy of all the loving-kindnesses and of all the faithfulness that you have exercised toward your servant . . . Deliver me, I pray you, from my brother’s hand, from Esau’s hand, because I am afraid of him that he may come and certainly assault me, mother together with children. And you, you have said, ‘Unquestionably I shall deal well with you and I will constitute your seed like the grains of sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”—Gen. 32:9-12.
6 Although Jacob took precautionary steps, his prayer was answered when he and Esau were reconciled. (Gen. 33:1-4) Read that petition carefully, and you will see that Jacob did not just plead for help. He expressed faith in the promised Seed and gratitude for God’s loving-kindness. Do you have some “fears within”? (2 Cor. 7:5) If so, Jacob’s entreaty may remind you that prayers can allay anxiety. However, they should contain not only requests but also expressions of faith.
Pray for Wisdom
7. Why did Moses pray for knowledge of Jehovah’s ways?
7 A desire to please Jehovah should motivate you to pray for wisdom. Moses prayed for knowledge of God’s ways. “See,” he pleaded, “you [Jehovah] are saying to me, ‘Lead this people up [from Egypt]’ . . . And now, if, please, I have found favor in your eyes, make me know, please, your ways, . . . in order that I may find favor in your eyes.” (Ex. 33:12, 13) In response, God gave Moses greater knowledge of His ways—a necessity if he was to take the lead among Jehovah’s people.
8. How might you benefit from meditating on 1 Kings 3:7-14?
8 David also prayed: “Make me know your own ways, O Jehovah.” (Ps. 25:4) David’s son Solomon entreated God for the wisdom required to discharge the duties of kingship in Israel. Solomon’s prayer pleased Jehovah, who gave him not only what he requested but also riches and glory. (Read 1 Kings 3:7-14.) If you receive service privileges that seem overwhelming, pray for wisdom and display a humble spirit. Then God will help you to acquire the knowledge and exercise the wisdom needed to care for your responsibilities in a proper and loving manner.
Pray From the Heart
9, 10. What do you find significant about Solomon’s references to the heart in his prayer at the temple’s inauguration?
9 To be heard, prayer must come from the heart. Solomon offered a heartfelt prayer, recorded at 1 Kings chapter 8, before throngs assembled in Jerusalem for the inauguration of Jehovah’s temple in 1026 B.C.E. After the ark of the covenant was placed in the Most Holy and Jehovah’s cloud filled the temple, Solomon praised God.
10 Study Solomon’s prayer, and note its references to the heart. Solomon acknowledged that Jehovah alone knows a person’s heart. (1 Ki. 8:38, 39) The same prayer shows that there is hope for a sinner who ‘returns to God with all his heart.’ If an enemy captured God’s people, their pleas would be heard if their heart was complete with Jehovah. (1 Ki. 8:48, 58, 61) Surely, then, your prayers should come from the heart.
How the Psalms Can Enrich Your Prayers
11, 12. What have you learned from the prayerful expression of a certain Levite who could not go to God’s sanctuary for a time?
11 Studying the Psalms can enrich your prayers and help you to wait for God to answer them. Consider the patience of an exiled Levite. Although he could not go to Jehovah’s sanctuary for a time, he sang: “Why are you in despair, O my soul, and why are you boisterous within me? Wait for God, for I shall yet laud him as the grand salvation of my person and as my God.”—Ps. 42:5, 11; 43:5.
12 What can you learn from that Levite? If imprisonment for righteousness’ sake were to prevent you from being with fellow believers in their place of worship for a time, wait patiently for God to act in your behalf. (Ps. 37:5) Meditate on past joys in God’s service, and pray for endurance while you “wait for God” to restore you to active association with his people.
Pray in Faith
13. In harmony with James 1:5-8, why should you pray in faith?
13 Regardless of your circumstances, always pray in faith. If you are facing a test of integrity, follow the counsel of the disciple James. Turn to Jehovah in prayer, and do not doubt that he can give you the wisdom needed to cope with your trial. (Read James 1:5-8.) God is aware of any disturbing thoughts you may have, and he can guide and comfort you by means of his spirit. Open your heart to him in full faith, “not doubting at all,” and accept the guidance of his spirit and the counsel of his Word.
14, 15. Why can it be said that Hannah prayed and acted in faith?
14 Hannah, one of the Levite Elkanah’s two wives, prayed and acted in faith. Childless Hannah was taunted by the other wife, Peninnah, who bore several children. At the tabernacle, Hannah vowed that if she bore a son, she would give him to Jehovah. Because her lips quivered while she prayed, High Priest Eli thought she was drunk. Learning that this was not so, he said: “May the God of Israel grant your petition.” Although Hannah did not know exactly what the outcome would be, she had faith that her prayer would be answered. Therefore, “her face became self-concerned no more.” She was no longer sad or downcast.—1 Sam. 1:9-18.
15 After the birth and weaning of Samuel, Hannah presented him to Jehovah for sacred service at the tabernacle. (1 Sam. 1:19-28) Taking time to meditate on her prayer on that occasion may well enrich your own prayers and help you to see that even sadness over a distressing problem can be overcome if you pray in faith that Jehovah will answer you.—1 Sam. 2:1-10.
16, 17. What happened because Nehemiah prayed and acted in faith?
16 The upright man Nehemiah of the fifth century B.C.E. prayed and acted in faith. He pleaded: “Ah, Jehovah, please, let your ear become attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take delight in fearing your name; and, please, do grant success to your servant today and make him an object of pity before this man.” Who was “this man”? It was Persian King Artaxerxes, whom Nehemiah served as cupbearer.—Neh. 1:11.
17 Nehemiah prayed in faith for days after learning that Jews released from Babylonian captivity were “in a very bad plight and in reproach; and the wall of Jerusalem [was] broken down.” (Neh. 1:3, 4) Nehemiah’s prayers were answered beyond his expectations when King Artaxerxes allowed him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild its wall. (Neh. 2:1-8) Before long the wall had been repaired. Nehemiah’s prayers were answered because they focused on true worship and were offered in faith. Is that true of your prayers?
Remember Praise and Thanksgiving
18, 19. For what reasons should a servant of Jehovah praise and thank him?
18 In prayer, remember to praise and thank Jehovah. There are so many reasons to do so! For example, David was eager to extol Jehovah’s kingship. (Read Psalm 145:10-13.) Do your prayers show that you appreciate the privilege of announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom? Words of the psalmists may also help you to express to God in heartfelt prayer your gratitude for Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions.—Ps. 27:4; 122:1.
19 Gratitude for your precious relationship with God may move you to pray from the heart with thoughts like these: “I shall laud you among the peoples, O Jehovah; I shall make melody to you among the national groups. For your loving-kindness is great up to the heavens, and your trueness up to the skies. Do be exalted above the heavens, O God; let your glory be above all the earth.” (Ps. 57:9-11) What heartwarming sentiments! Do you not agree that such touching words from the Psalms can affect and enrich your prayers?
Beseech God With Reverence
20. How did Mary express her devotion to God?
20 Reverence for God should be evident in your prayers. The reverential words of Mary shortly after learning that she would be the mother of the Messiah were similar to those of Hannah when she was presenting young Samuel for tabernacle service. Mary’s reverence for God is obvious in her words: “My soul magnifies Jehovah, and my spirit cannot keep from being overjoyed at God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46, 47) Could your prayers be enhanced by expressing similar sentiments? No wonder godly Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus the Messiah!
21. How did the prayers of Jesus give evidence of reverence and faith?
21 Jesus prayed reverently in full faith. Before he resurrected Lazarus, for instance, “Jesus raised his eyes heavenward and said: ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me.’” (John 11:41, 42) Do your prayers give evidence of such reverence and faith? Study Jesus’ reverential model prayer, and you will see that particularly significant features of it are the sanctification of Jehovah’s name, the coming of his Kingdom, and the accomplishment of his will. (Matt. 6:9, 10) Think about your own prayers. Do they reflect your keen interest in Jehovah’s Kingdom, in the doing of his will, and in the sanctification of his holy name? They should.
22. Why can you be sure that Jehovah will give you courage to declare the good news?
22 Because of persecution or other trials, prayer often includes pleas for help to serve Jehovah with courage. When the Sanhedrin ordered Peter and John to stop ‘teaching upon the basis of Jesus’ name,’ those apostles courageously refused to quit. (Acts 4:18-20) After being released, they told fellow believers what had happened. Then all those present petitioned God for help in speaking his word with boldness. How thrilling it must have been when that prayer was answered, for they were “filled with the holy spirit and were speaking the word of God with boldness”! (Read Acts 4:24-31.) As a result, multitudes became worshippers of Jehovah. Prayer can also strengthen you to declare the good news boldly.
Keep On Enriching Your Prayers
23, 24. (a) Cite other examples showing how Bible study can enrich your prayers. (b) What will you do to enrich your prayers?
23 Many other examples could be cited to show that Bible reading and study can enrich your prayers. Like Jonah, for instance, in prayer you can acknowledge that “salvation belongs to Jehovah.” (Jonah 2:1-10) If you are troubled over a serious sin and have sought help from the elders, the prayerful sentiments of David may help you to express your repentance during personal prayers. (Ps. 51:1-12) In certain prayers, you can praise Jehovah as Jeremiah did. (Jer. 32:16-19) If you are seeking a marriage mate, studying the prayer found in Ezra chapter 9, coupled with personal entreaty, can strengthen your determination to obey God by ‘marrying only in the Lord.’—1 Cor. 7:39; Ezra 9:6, 10-15.
24 Keep on reading, studying, and searching the Bible. Look for points you can include in your prayers. You may be able to weave Scriptural thoughts into your supplications and prayers of thanks and praise. You are sure to draw ever closer to Jehovah God as you enrich your prayers through Bible study.
How Would You Answer?
• Why should we seek and follow God’s guidance?
• What should motivate us to pray for wisdom?
• How can the book of Psalms enrich our prayers?
• Why should we pray in faith and with reverence?
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Abraham’s servant prayed for God’s guidance. Do you?
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Family Worship can enrich your prayers