1, 2. Why do you think prayer is such a special gift, and why do we need to know what the Bible teaches about it?
COMPARED to the universe, the earth is very small. When Jehovah looks at the earth, all the people in all the nations seem like just a tiny drop of water from a bucket. (Psalm 115:15; Isaiah 40:15) Even though we are so small when compared to the universe, Psalm 145:18, 19 says: “Jehovah is near to all those calling on him, to all who call on him in truth. He satisfies the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry for help, and he rescues them.” What an amazing privilege we have! Jehovah, the almighty Creator, wants to be close to us, and he wants to listen to our prayers. Yes, prayer is a privilege, a special gift that Jehovah has given to each one of us.
2 But Jehovah will listen to us only if we talk to him in the way he approves. How can we do that? Let’s see what the Bible says about prayer.
WHY PRAY TO JEHOVAH?
3. Why should you pray to Jehovah?
3 Jehovah wants you to pray, or talk, to him. How do we know that? Please read Philippians 4:6, 7. Think about that kind invitation. The Ruler of the universe is deeply interested in you and wants you to tell him about how you feel and about your problems.
4. How does regular prayer to Jehovah strengthen your friendship with him?
4 Prayer helps us to have a close friendship with Jehovah. When friends regularly talk to each other about their thoughts, concerns, and feelings, their friendship grows stronger. It’s similar with prayer to Jehovah. Through the Bible, he has shared his thoughts and feelings with you, and he tells you what he will do in the future. You can share even your deepest feelings with him by talking to him regularly. As you do this, your friendship with Jehovah will grow much stronger.—James 4:8.
WHAT MUST WE DO TO BE HEARD BY GOD?
5. How do we know that Jehovah doesn’t listen to all prayers?
5 Does Jehovah listen to all prayers? No, he does not. In the time of the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah told the Israelites: “Although you offer many prayers, I am not listening; your hands are filled with blood.” (Isaiah 1:15) So if we are not careful, we could do things that would distance us from Jehovah, causing him to ignore our prayers.
6. Why is faith so important? How do you show that you have faith?
6 If we want Jehovah to listen to our prayers, we must have faith in him. (Mark 11:24) The apostle Paul explains: “Without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But it is not enough just to say that we have faith. We need to prove our faith clearly by obeying Jehovah every day.—Read James 2:26.
7. (a) Why should we be humble and respectful as we pray to Jehovah? (b) How can we show that we are sincere when we pray?
7 We should be humble and respectful as we pray to Jehovah. Why? If we were to speak to a king or a president, we would do so in a respectful way. Jehovah is Almighty God, so shouldn’t we show even more respect and humility when we speak to him? (Genesis 17:1; Psalm 138:6) We should also be sincere and pray to Jehovah from our heart, not just repeating the same words over and over again.—Matthew 6:7, 8.
8. When we pray about something, what else do we need to do?
8 Finally, when we pray about something, we must do everything we can to work at what we are praying for. For example, if we pray to Jehovah for our daily needs, then we can’t be lazy and expect Jehovah to give us everything even though we are able to work for it. We must work hard and accept whatever job we are able to do. (Matthew 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10) Or if we pray to Jehovah for help to stop doing something wrong, we must avoid any situation that could tempt us. (Colossians 3:5) Let’s now examine some common questions about prayer.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT PRAYER
9. To whom should we pray? What does John 14:6 teach us about prayer?
9 To whom should we pray? Jesus taught his followers to pray to “our Father in the heavens.” (Matthew 6:9) He also said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) So we should pray only to Jehovah through Jesus. What does praying through Jesus mean? For Jehovah to accept our prayers, we need to show respect for the special assignment Jehovah gave to Jesus. As we learned, Jesus came to earth to save us from sin and death. (John 3:16; Romans 5:12) Jehovah has also appointed Jesus as High Priest and Judge.—John 5:22; Hebrews 6:20.
10. Do we need to be in a special position when we pray? Explain.
10 Do we need to be in a special position when we pray? No, Jehovah doesn’t ask us to kneel, sit, or stand when we pray. The Bible teaches us that we can talk to Jehovah in any respectful position. (1 Chronicles 17:16; Nehemiah 8:6; Daniel 6:10; Mark 11:25) What is most important to Jehovah is, not our position when we pray, but that we talk to him with the right attitude. We can pray out loud or silently wherever we are and at anytime during the day or night. When we pray to Jehovah, we can trust that he will hear us even when nobody else does.—Nehemiah 2:1-6.
11. What are some things that we can talk to Jehovah about?
11 What can we pray for? We can pray for anything that is acceptable to Jehovah. The Bible says: “No matter what we ask according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Can we pray about personal things? Yes. Praying to Jehovah should be like talking to a close friend. We can tell Jehovah anything that’s on our mind and in our heart. (Psalm 62:8) We can pray for him to give us his powerful holy spirit to help us do what’s right. (Luke 11:13) We can also ask Jehovah for wisdom to make good decisions, and we can pray for strength to cope with difficulties. (James 1:5) We should ask Jehovah to forgive our sins. (Ephesians 1:3, 7) We should also pray for others, including our family and our brothers and sisters in the congregation.—Acts 12:5; Colossians 4:12.
12. What should be most important in our prayers?
12 What should be most important in our prayers? Jehovah and his will. We should thank him from our heart for everything he has done for us. (1 Chronicles 29:10-13) We know this because when Jesus was on earth, he taught his disciples how to pray. (Read Matthew 6:9-13.) He said that they should first pray for God’s name to be sanctified, that is, treated as sacred or holy. Then Jesus showed that we should pray for God’s Kingdom to come and for Jehovah’s will to be done all over the earth. It was only after praying for those very important things that Jesus said that we should pray for our personal needs. When we put Jehovah and his will first in our prayers, we show what is most important to us.
13. How long should our prayers be?
13 How long should our prayers be? The Bible doesn’t say. Our prayers can be short or long, depending on the situation. For example, we might say a short prayer before we eat but a longer prayer when we are giving Jehovah thanks or telling him about our concerns. (1 Samuel 1:12, 15) We don’t want to say long prayers just to impress others, as some people did in Jesus’ day. (Luke 20:46, 47) Jehovah is not impressed by prayers like those. What’s important to Jehovah is that we pray from our heart.
14. How often should we pray, and what does this teach us about Jehovah?
14 How often should we pray? Jehovah invites us to talk to him regularly. The Bible says that we should “pray continually,” “persevere in prayer,” and “pray constantly.” (Matthew 26:41; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) Jehovah is always ready to listen to us. We can thank him every day for his love and generosity. We can also ask him for his guidance, strength, and comfort. If we truly value the privilege we have to pray to Jehovah, we will use every opportunity to talk to him.
15. Why should we say “amen” at the end of a prayer?
15 Why should we say “amen” at the end of a prayer? The word “amen” means “surely” or “so be it.” It is a way of showing that we mean what we said in our prayer, that is, that we are sincere. (Psalm 41:13) The Bible teaches us that it is also good to say “amen,” either silently or out loud, at the end of a public prayer to show that we agree with what was said.—1 Chronicles 16:36; 1 Corinthians 14:16.
HOW GOD ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS
16. Does Jehovah really answer our prayers? Explain.
16 Does Jehovah really answer our prayers? Yes, he does. The Bible calls him the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) Jehovah hears and answers the sincere prayers of millions of humans, and he does so in many different ways.
17. How does Jehovah use angels and his servants on earth to answer our prayers?
17 Jehovah uses angels and his servants on earth to provide the answer to our prayers. (Hebrews 1:13, 14) There are many examples of people who prayed for help in understanding the Bible and shortly after that received a visit from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Bible shows that the angels are involved in declaring “good news” all over the earth. (Read Revelation 14:6.) Also, many of us have prayed to Jehovah about a specific problem or need and have then received the help we needed from a Christian brother or sister.—Proverbs 12:25; James 2:16.
18. How does Jehovah use his holy spirit and the Bible to answer prayers?
18 Jehovah uses his holy spirit to answer our prayers. When we pray for help to cope with a problem, he may use his holy spirit to give us guidance and strength. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Jehovah also uses the Bible to answer our prayers and to help us to make wise decisions. When we read the Bible, we may find scriptures that will help us. Jehovah can also motivate someone who comments at a meeting to say what we need to hear or an elder in the congregation to share a point from the Bible with us.—Galatians 6:1.
19. Why might it seem that Jehovah has not answered our prayers?
19 Sometimes, though, we might wonder, ‘Why hasn’t Jehovah answered my prayers yet?’ Remember, he knows when and how to answer our prayers. He knows what we need. We may have to keep on praying for a time to show that we really mean what we say to him and to show him that we truly have faith in him. (Luke 11:5-10) Sometimes Jehovah answers our prayers in a way that we may not expect. For example, we may pray about a difficult situation, but instead of removing the problem, he may give us the strength to endure it.—Read Philippians 4:13.
20. Why should we pray to Jehovah often?
20 What an amazing privilege we have to pray to Jehovah! We can be sure that he will listen to us. (Psalm 145:18) And the more often we pray to Jehovah from our heart, the stronger our friendship with him will become.
Find out if the Bible limits our prayers to certain places and times.
WHAT CAN THE BIBLE TEACH US?