“May my prayer be as incense prepared before you.”—PS. 141:2.
SONG 47 Pray to Jehovah Each Day
1. How should we view the opportunity to pray to Jehovah?
WE HAVE been granted a marvelous privilege—that of approaching the Maker of heaven and earth in prayer. Just think: We can pour out our hearts to Jehovah at any time and in any language, without needing to make an appointment. We can pray to him from a hospital bed or from a prison cell, confident that our loving Father will listen to us. We do not take this privilege for granted.
2. How did King David show that he treasured the privilege of prayer?
2 King David treasured the privilege of prayer. He sang to Jehovah: “May my prayer be as incense prepared before you.” (Ps. 141:1, 2) In David’s time, the sacred incense used in true worship by the priests was prepared with great care. (Ex. 30:34, 35) David’s reference to incense suggests that he wanted to give careful thought to what he was going to say to his heavenly Father. That is our earnest desire too. We want our prayers to please Jehovah.
3. What should be our attitude when we approach Jehovah in prayer, and why?
3 When we pray to Jehovah, we should avoid being overly familiar. Instead, we pray with an attitude of deep respect. Think about the amazing visions that Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John received. Those visions differ one from the other, but they have something in common. They all depict Jehovah as a majestic King. Isaiah “saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne.” (Isa. 6:1-3) Ezekiel saw Jehovah seated on his celestial chariot, surrounded by “a brilliance . . . like that of a rainbow.” (Ezek. 1:26-28) Daniel saw “the Ancient of Days” clothed in white garments, with flames of fire coming from His throne. (Dan. 7:9, 10) And John saw Jehovah seated on a throne surrounded by something like a beautiful emerald-green rainbow. (Rev. 4:2-4) As we reflect on Jehovah’s incomparable glory, we are reminded of the incredible privilege of approaching him in prayer and the importance of doing so with reverence. But how should we pray?
“YOU MUST PRAY, THEN, THIS WAY”
4. What do we learn from the opening words of the model prayer found at Matthew 6:9, 10?
4 Read Matthew 6:9, 10. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in a way that pleases God. After saying “you must pray, then, this way,” Jesus first mentioned important matters that are directly related to Jehovah’s purpose: the sanctification of His name; the coming of the Kingdom, which will destroy all of God’s opposers; and the future blessings that He has in mind for the earth and for mankind. By including such matters in our prayers, we show that God’s will is important to us.
5. Is it proper for us to pray about personal matters?
5 In the next part of the prayer, Jesus showed that it is proper to pray about personal matters. We can ask Jehovah to give us our food for the day, to forgive us for our sins, to protect us from temptation, and to deliver us from the wicked one. (Matt. 6:11-13) When we ask Jehovah for these things, we are acknowledging our dependence on him and expressing our desire to obtain his approval.
6. Are the matters we pray about limited to those specifically mentioned in the model prayer? Explain.
6 Jesus did not expect his followers to adhere rigidly to the wording of the model prayer. In other prayers that Jesus offered, he mentioned different matters that were of concern to him at the time. (Matt. 26:39, 42; John 17:1-26) Likewise, we can pray about anything that concerns us. When we have a decision to make, we can pray for wisdom and understanding. (Ps. 119:33, 34) When we are about to begin a difficult assignment, we can pray for insight and discernment. (Prov. 2:6) Parents can pray for their children, children can pray for their parents, and all of us can and should pray for our Bible students and for those to whom we preach. Of course, our prayers should go beyond petitions.
7. Why should we praise Jehovah in prayer?
7 We should remember to praise Jehovah in our prayers. No one deserves praise more than our God. He is “good and ready to forgive.” He is also “merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and faithfulness.” (Ps. 86:5, 15) We certainly have good reason to praise Jehovah for who he is and for what he does.
8 In addition to praising Jehovah in our prayers, we are moved to thank him for the marvelous things he provides. For instance, we can thank him for the magnificent colors seen in flowers, the endless variety of delicious food, and the refreshing company of dear friends. Our loving Father gives us this and much more, just to make us happy. (Read Psalm 104:12-15, 24.) Even more important, we thank Jehovah for the abundant spiritual food he provides and for the marvelous hope we have for the future.
9. What can help us remember to thank Jehovah? (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18)
9 It can be so easy to forget to thank Jehovah for all that he does for us. What can help you to remember? You could make a list of specific requests you have made and periodically check it to see how Jehovah has answered them. Then say a prayer to thank him for his help. (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18.) Think about this: We feel happy and appreciated when others show gratitude to us. Likewise, when we remember to thank Jehovah for answering our prayers, it warms his heart. (Col. 3:15) What, though, is another important reason to thank our God?
THANK JEHOVAH FOR HIS BELOVED SON
10. According to 1 Peter 2:21, why do we have reason to thank Jehovah for sending Jesus to the earth?
10 Read 1 Peter 2:21. We should thank Jehovah for sending his beloved Son to teach us. We learn so much about Jehovah and about how to please him by studying the life of Jesus. If we exercise faith in the sacrifice of Christ, we can have a warm, personal relationship with Jehovah God and enjoy peace with Him.—Rom. 5:1.
11. What role does Jesus play in our prayers to Jehovah?
11 We thank Jehovah that we can pray to him through his Son. Jesus is the channel that Jehovah uses to grant our requests. Jehovah listens to and answers prayers that are offered in Jesus’ name. Jesus explained: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do this, so that the Father may be glorified in connection with the Son.”—John 14:13, 14.
12. What is another reason to thank Jehovah for his Son?
12 Jehovah forgives our sins on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. The Scriptures describe Jesus as our “high priest [sitting] at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” (Heb. 8:1) Jesus is our “helper with the Father.” (1 John 2:1) How thankful we are to Jehovah for providing us with a sympathetic High Priest who understands our weaknesses and who “pleads for us”! (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 4:15) We are imperfect humans, so without Jesus’ sacrifice we would not be able to approach Jehovah in prayer. No doubt you would agree that we can never adequately express our gratitude for the precious gift that Jehovah has given us—the gift of his dear Son!
PRAY FOR YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS
13. On the night before his death, how did Jesus show that he loved his disciples?
13 On the night before his death, Jesus prayed at length for his disciples, asking his Father to “watch over them because of the wicked one.” (John 17:15) How loving of Jesus! He was about to undergo a difficult trial of his own; yet, he was concerned about the welfare of his apostles.
14. How can we show that we love our brothers and sisters?
14 In imitation of Jesus, we do not focus only on our own needs. Instead, we regularly pray for our brothers and sisters. When we do that, we are obeying Jesus’ command to love one another and we show Jehovah just how much we love our fellow believers. (John 13:34) Praying for our brothers and sisters is not a waste of time. God’s Word tells us that “a righteous man’s supplication has a powerful effect.”—Jas. 5:16.
15. Why do our fellow worshippers need our prayers?
15 Our fellow worshippers need our prayers because they face many trials. We can ask Jehovah to help them to endure sickness, natural disasters, civil war, persecution, or other difficulties. We can also pray for our self-sacrificing brothers and sisters who provide relief for those in need. You may personally know some who are facing such challenges. Why not mention them by name in your personal prayers? We show genuine brotherly love by asking Jehovah to help them to endure.
16. Why should we pray for those who take the lead among us?
16 Those who take the lead in the congregation greatly appreciate the prayers of others and benefit from them. That was true of the apostle Paul. He wrote: “Pray also for me, that the words may be given to me when I open my mouth, so that I may be able to speak boldly in making known the sacred secret of the good news.” (Eph. 6:19) Today, too, we have many hardworking brothers who take the lead among us. We show love for them by asking Jehovah to bless their work.
WHEN REPRESENTING OTHERS IN PRAYER
17-18. On what occasions may we be asked to pray on behalf of others, and what should we keep in mind?
17 At times, we are invited to offer a prayer on behalf of others. For example, a sister who is conducting a Bible study may ask the sister who has accompanied her to offer a prayer. The visiting sister might not know the student well, so she might prefer to offer the concluding prayer at the study. In that way, she can more easily adapt her prayer to the needs of the student.
18 A brother may be asked to pray at a meeting for field service or at a congregation meeting. Brothers who have that privilege should keep in mind the purpose of the meeting. Prayer is not to be used to counsel the congregation or to make announcements. For most congregation meetings, a total of five minutes is allotted for song and prayer, so the brother who is offering the prayer need not use “many words,” especially at the beginning of a meeting.—Matt. 6:7.
MAKE PRAYER A PRIORITY IN YOUR LIFE
19. What will help us to be ready for Jehovah’s day of judgment?
19 We need to make prayer an even greater priority in our life as we approach Jehovah’s day of judgment. In this regard, Jesus said: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that must occur.” (Luke 21:36) Yes, constant prayer will help us to keep spiritually awake so that God’s day does not catch us unprepared.
20. How can our prayers be like sweet-smelling incense?
20 What have we discussed? We highly value our privilege of prayer. The main focus of our prayers should be on matters directly related to Jehovah’s purpose. We also express appreciation for God’s Son and his Kingdom rule, and we pray for our fellow worshippers. And, of course, we can pray for our own physical and spiritual needs. When we think carefully about what we say in our prayers, we show that we treasure this marvelous privilege. Our words will be like sweet-smelling incense to Jehovah—“a pleasure to Him.”—Prov. 15:8.
SONG 45 The Meditation of My Heart
a We deeply appreciate the privilege of approaching Jehovah in prayer. We want our prayers to be like sweet-smelling incense, pleasing to him. In this article, we will discuss what we can properly include in our prayers. We will also consider a few points that we should keep in mind when we are invited to represent others in prayer.
b PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A husband prays with his wife about their child’s safety in school, an aged parent’s health, and a Bible student’s progress.
c PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A young brother thanks Jehovah for Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, our beautiful earthly home, and nutritious food.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A sister prays that Jehovah bless the Governing Body with his spirit and help those who are suffering from disasters and persecution.