Before you embark on any endeavor, you might naturally wonder, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Is it selfish, though, to ask this about prayer? Not necessarily. We naturally want to know whether it does any good. Even the good man Job once asked: “If I call out to him, will he answer me?”
In the preceding articles, we considered evidence that prayer is far more than a religious routine or a type of mental therapy. The true God really does listen to prayer. If we pray in the right way and for the proper things, he will pay attention. In fact, he urges us to draw close to him. (James 4:8) So, what can we expect if we make prayer a part of our life? Let us look at just some of the benefits.
Peace of mind.
When problems and challenges arise in your life, do you feel overwhelmed with anxiety? The Bible encourages us to “pray constantly” at times like these and to let our “petitions be made known to God.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6) The Bible assures us that if we turn to God in prayer, “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard [our] hearts and [our] mental powers.” (Philippians 4:7) We can gain a measure of tranquillity by pouring out our concerns to our heavenly Father. In fact, he encourages us to do so. “Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you,” says Psalm 55:22.
“Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you.”
Countless people the world over have experienced this peace. Hee Ran, from South Korea,says: “Even though I have serious problems, once I pray about them, I feel relieved of the burden and I feel I have the power to endure.” Cecilia, in the Philippines, relates: “Being a mother, I worry a lot about my daughters and my mother, who is now unable to recognize me. But because of prayer, I am able to go about my daily life with fewer worries. I know that Jehovah will help me to take care of them.”
Comfort and strength when facing trials.
Are you facing extreme stress, perhaps even life-threatening or tragic circumstances? Praying to “the God of all comfort” can bring immense relief. The Bible says that he “comforts us in all our trials.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) For instance, on one occasion when Jesus was greatly distressed, “he bent his knees and began to pray.” The result? “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:41, 43) Another faithful man, Nehemiah, suffered threats from evil people who tried to stop him from doing God’s work. He prayed: “Now, I pray, strengthen my hands.” The subsequent events show that God really did help him to rise above his fears and to succeed in his work. (Nehemiah 6:9-16) Reginald, in Ghana, describes his experience with prayer: “When I pray, especially in times of overwhelming difficulties, I get a feeling of having told my problem to someone who has the means to help me and who assures me that there is no cause for alarm.” Yes, God can comfort us when we pray to him.
Wisdom from God.
Some decisions we make can permanently affect us and our loved ones. How can we make wise choices? The Bible says: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom [especially in dealing with trials], let him keep asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) If we pray for wisdom, God can use his holy spirit to guide us to make wise decisions. In fact, we can specifically ask for holy spirit because Jesus assures us that “the Father in heaven [will] give holy spirit to those asking him!”
Even Jesus felt the need to ask his Father for help when making important decisions. The Bible tells us that when he wanted to select the 12 men who would serve as his apostles, “he spent the whole night in prayer to God.”
Like Jesus, many today have been reassured when they have seen how God has responded to their requests for help in making wise decisions. Regina, in the Philippines, tells of the various problems she has faced, such as supporting herself and her family after the death of her husband, losing a job, and experiencing difficulty in raising children. What has helped her to make wise decisions? She says, “I depend on Jehovah’s help through prayer.” Kwabena, in Ghana, tells why he asked for God’s help, “I lost my well-paying job in construction.” About considering his options, he says, “I consistently prayed to Jehovah for guidance in making the right decision.” He adds, “I feel strongly that Jehovah helped me to choose a career that enables me to care for my spiritual and physical needs.” You too can experience God’s guidance by praying about matters that could affect your relationship with him.
We have mentioned just a few things that prayer can do for you. (For more examples, see the box “Benefits of Prayer.”) But for you to get these benefits, you need first to get to know God and his will. If that is what you want, we encourage you to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to help you study the Bible. * This can be your first step in drawing closer to the “Hearer of prayer.”