God Does Answer Prayers
Cornelius was a man who sought God’s favor by means of frequent, heartfelt prayers. Moreover, he made good use of his position as an army officer. According to the Bible, “he made many gifts of mercy” to needy people.—Acts 10:1, 2.
AT THAT time, the Christian congregation was made up of believing Jews, proselytes, and Samaritans. Cornelius was an uncircumcised Gentile and not part of the Christian congregation. Does that mean that his prayers were in vain? No. Jehovah God took note of Cornelius and his prayerful works.—Acts 10:4.
Through angelic guidance, Cornelius was brought into contact with the Christian congregation. (Acts 10:30-33) As a result, he and his household were privileged to become the first uncircumcised Gentiles to be accepted into the Christian congregation. Jehovah God deemed Cornelius’ personal experience worthy of being included in the Bible record. No doubt, he made many changes to bring his life into complete harmony with God’s standards. (Isaiah 2:2-4; John 17:16) Cornelius’ experience should be of great encouragement to people of all nations who are seeking God’s favor today. Consider some examples.
A young woman in India was in serious need of comfort. Married at 21, she had two children. But soon after the birth of the second child, her husband died. Suddenly, at the age of 24, she was a widow with a 2-month-old daughter and a 22-month-old son. No wonder she needed comfort! Where could she turn? One night, in deep distress, she prayed, saying, “Heavenly Father, please comfort me through your Word.”
The next morning, she had a visitor. He was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That day, his house-to-house ministry had been difficult because few had opened the door to him. Tired and rather discouraged, he was about to go home, but somehow he felt impelled to visit just one more house. That was where he met the young widow. She invited him in and accepted a publication that explained the Bible. The woman drew great comfort from reading that publication and from her discussions with the Witness. She learned of God’s promise to raise the dead and of God’s Kingdom, which will soon make the earth a paradise. Most important, she came to know and love the one true God, Jehovah, who had answered her prayer.
Nora, who lives in the city of George, South Africa, set aside a month to share in the full-time evangelizing work. Before starting, she earnestly prayed to Jehovah to help her find someone who was genuinely interested in studying the Bible. The territory she was assigned to work included the home of a person who had been very rude to Nora on previous visits. Courageously, Nora called at that home again. To her surprise, she found that a new tenant, named Noleen, had moved in. Moreover, Noleen and her mother had been praying to God for help to understand the Bible. “When I offered them a Bible study,” explains Nora, “they were delighted.” Noleen and her mother progressed quickly. In time, they both began to share with Nora in the spiritual healing work.
Another example showing the power of prayer is that of a couple who live in the South African city of Johannesburg. On a Saturday night in 1996, Dennis and Carol’s marriage reached the breaking point. As a last resort, they decided to pray for help, which they repeatedly did until late into the night. The next morning, at 11 o’clock, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked at their door. Dennis answered the door and told them to wait until he called his wife. Dennis then warned Carol that if she invited the Witnesses in, it might be hard to get rid of them. Carol reminded Dennis that they had been praying for help and said that this might be God’s answer to their prayers. So the Witnesses were invited in, and a Bible study was started in the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. Dennis and Carol were thrilled with what they learned. That same afternoon, they attended their first meeting at the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. By applying the knowledge they had learned from the Bible, Dennis and Carol found solutions to their marital problems. They are now happy, baptized praisers of Jehovah and regularly share their Bible-based beliefs with their neighbors.
What if You Feel Unworthy to Pray?
Some sincere people may feel unworthy to pray because of their bad way of life. Jesus Christ told the story of such a man, a despised tax collector. Entering the temple courtyard, this man felt unworthy to come to the customary place of prayer. “Standing at a distance . . . [he] kept beating his breast, saying, ‘O God, be gracious to me a sinner.’” (Luke 18:13) According to Jesus, this man received a favorable hearing. This proves that Jehovah God is indeed gracious and wants to help sincerely repentant sinners.
Consider a young South African man named Paul. As a boy, Paul had attended Christian meetings with his mother. But during his high school years, he began associating with young people who did not follow God’s ways. After leaving school, he served in the army of South Africa’s former apartheid government. Then, unexpectedly, his girlfriend broke off their relationship. This unsatisfying way of life left Paul feeling very depressed. “One evening,” he recalls, “I prayed to Jehovah and asked for his help, even though I had not approached God sincerely for years.”
Not long after this prayer, Paul’s mother invited him to attend the annual Memorial of Christ’s death. (Luke 22:19) Paul found it strange that his mother did this, as he had been wayward and had shown little interest in the Bible. “I viewed this invitation as Jehovah’s answer to my prayer and felt that I had to reciprocate.” From that time onward, Paul began attending all Christian meetings. After four months of Bible study, he qualified for baptism. Moreover, he terminated his engineering studies and chose the career of sharing in the full-time evangelizing work. Today, Paul is a happy man, no longer depressed about his past life. For the last 11 years, he has served at the branch office of the Watch Tower Society in South Africa.
Indeed, Jehovah God graciously answers prayers and “becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Soon the great day of Jehovah will arrive and bring an end to all wickedness. In the meantime, Jehovah is answering the prayers of his people for strength and guidance as they zealously share in the vital work of witnessing. Thus, millions of individuals from all nations are being brought into contact with the Christian congregation and are being blessed with Bible knowledge that leads to everlasting life.—John 17:3.
[Picture on page 5]
Cornelius’ heartfelt prayer led to his receiving a visit from the apostle Peter
[Picture on page 6]
Prayer has helped many through times of distress
[Pictures on page 7]
It is good to pray for help to understand the Bible
Married couples can pray for help to strengthen their marriage