“Do Not Lean Upon Your Own Understanding”
“Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding.”—PROVERBS 3:5.
1, 2. (a) What are some problems that we may experience? (b) In whom should we trust when we are experiencing difficult situations, making important decisions, or fighting temptations? Why?
CYNTHIA’S * employer has already dismissed some of the workers from his company. (See footnote.) Now Cynthia is worried that she too may lose her job. How will she pay her bills? Another sister, Pamela, wants to move to an area where there is a great need to preach the good news. But should she move to that area? Samuel has a different kind of problem. He looked at pornography when he was very young. He is now in his 20’s and feels a strong temptation to start looking at pornography again. How can he fight this temptation?
2 When you are experiencing difficult situations, making important decisions, or fighting temptations, in whom do you trust? Do you trust only yourself? Or do you “throw your burden upon Jehovah”? (Psalm 55:22) The Bible says: “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.” (Psalm 34:15) So it is very important that we trust in Jehovah with all our heart and that we do not lean on our own understanding!—Proverbs 3:5.
3. (a) What does it mean to trust in Jehovah? (b) Why do some lean on their own understanding?
3 We show that we trust in Jehovah with all our heart when we do what he requires of us. We have to pray regularly to him so that he will help and guide us. But many people think it is hard to trust in Jehovah. For example, a sister named Lynn said that it has been a struggle for her to trust in Jehovah completely. Why? She said: “I have no relationship with my father, and I have a mother who did not care for me emotionally or physically. So I very quickly learned to look after myself.” Because of this, it is hard for her to trust anyone. Other people may rely on their own ability and success instead of trusting in Jehovah. For example, an elder who has a lot of experience might trust himself too much instead of praying to God before he cares for matters in the congregation.
4. What will we study about in this article?
4 When we pray for Jehovah to help us, he expects us to try our best and follow his direction. How do you know when you should allow Jehovah to solve a difficult problem and when you should try to solve it yourself? What should we be careful about when we are making decisions? Why do we need to pray when we are fighting temptations? We will answer these questions by discussing some Bible examples.
WHEN WE ARE SUFFERING
5, 6. What did Hezekiah do when King Sennacherib said that he would attack Jerusalem?
5 The Bible says about King Hezekiah of Judah: “He kept sticking to Jehovah. He did not turn aside from following him, but he continued keeping his commandments that Jehovah had commanded Moses.” King Hezekiah trusted in Jehovah, the God of Israel. (2 Kings 18:5, 6) Once, King Sennacherib of Assyria and his powerful army had captured some strong cities of Judah, and next he wanted to attack Jerusalem. So King Sennacherib sent his army to Jerusalem and sent Rabshakeh and two other messengers to insult and frighten the people of Jerusalem. What did Hezekiah do? Hezekiah went to the temple of Jehovah and began to pray: “O Jehovah our God, save us, please, out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Jehovah, are God alone.”—2 Kings 19:14-19.
6 Hezekiah asked Jehovah for help but also did something about the problem. For example, even before he went to the temple to pray, he told his people not to respond to Rabshakeh’s insults. Hezekiah also sent some of his men to the prophet Isaiah to ask for his advice. (2 Kings 18:36; 19:1, 2) And Hezekiah only did things that he knew would please Jehovah. He did not try to get help from Egypt or from other nations. He knew that Jehovah did not want him to do that. So Hezekiah did not lean on his own understanding. He trusted in Jehovah. After Jehovah’s angel killed 185,000 of Sennacherib’s men, Sennacherib and his army returned to Nineveh.—2 Kings 19:35, 36.
7. What comfort can we receive from the prayers of Hannah and Jonah?
7 Here are two more examples. Hannah, the wife of the Levite Elkanah, was very sad because she could not have a child. But she relied on Jehovah and prayed to him about her situation. (1 Samuel 1:9-11, 18) Jonah, a prophet of Jehovah, disobeyed Jehovah and was swallowed by a big fish. But Jonah prayed: “Out of my distress I called out to Jehovah, and he proceeded to answer me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried for help. You heard my voice.” Jehovah saved him. (Jonah 2:1, 2, 10) It is very comforting to know that no matter how difficult our situation is, we can pray to Jehovah and ask him to help us.—Read Psalm 55:1, 16.
8, 9. What was important to Hezekiah, Hannah, and Jonah when they prayed? What can we learn from their example?
8 The examples of Hezekiah, Hannah, and Jonah help us to understand what we should pray for when we are suffering. Even though all three of them suffered because of difficult situations, their prayers show us that they did not care only about themselves and their own problems. The most important things to them were to honor God’s name, to worship God the right way, and to do what he required of them. Hezekiah was sad because people were dishonoring God’s name. Hannah promised Jehovah that if he would give her a son, she would arrange for him to serve at the tabernacle in Shiloh. And Jonah said: “What I have vowed, I will pay.”—Jonah 2:9.
9 When we are praying for help because of a difficult situation, we should think about our reasons for praying. Do we pray only about solutions to our own problems? Or do we remember Jehovah and his purpose in our prayers? When we are suffering, we could become so worried about our own problems that Jehovah’s purpose and our worship of him become less important to us. When we pray to Jehovah for help, we should remember to pray for the sanctification of his name and the vindication of his sovereignty. If we remember these things in our prayers, it will help us to have a positive attitude even if we do not get the solution we wanted. Sometimes Jehovah answers our prayers by giving us the strength we need to endure the problem. He may not immediately take the problem away.—Read Isaiah 40:29; Philippians 4:13.
WHEN WE ARE MAKING DECISIONS
10, 11. What did Jehoshaphat do when he had to make a difficult decision?
10 How do you make important decisions in your life? Do you first decide what you want to happen and only then ask Jehovah to make it happen that way? Jehoshaphat, a king of Judah, is a good example of a person who made a decision in the right way. The Moabites and the Ammonites started a war against the land of Judah. But Judah was not powerful enough to fight them. So what did Jehoshaphat do?
11 The Bible says: “Jehoshaphat became afraid and set his face to search for Jehovah.” To show how serious the situation was, he told all the people of Judah not to eat for a period of time and he gathered them together to ask for Jehovah’s guidance. Then he stood up among the people of Judah and of Jerusalem and prayed: “O our God, will you not execute judgment upon them? For in us there is no power before this large crowd that is coming against us; and we ourselves do not know what we ought to do, but our eyes are toward you.” The true God heard Jehoshaphat’s prayer, and He fought for them and saved them. (2 Chronicles 20:3-12, 17) When we need to make an important decision, especially a decision that could affect our relationship with Jehovah, we should rely on him and not on our own understanding.
12, 13. When making decisions, what can we learn from King David’s example?
12 What should we do when we have a problem that may seem easy for us to solve? Maybe we think we can find a solution quickly because we have been in similar situations before. The example of King David helps us to understand what we should do in these situations. When the Amalekites attacked the city of Ziklag, they took away the wives and children of David and of his men. David prayed to Jehovah and asked: “Shall I chase after this marauder band?” Jehovah answered: “Go in chase, for you will without fail overtake them, and you will without fail make a deliverance.” David obeyed, and he got back all that the Amalekites had taken.—1 Samuel 30:7-9, 18-20.
13 Sometime after the Amalekites attacked Ziklag, the Philistines attacked Israel. David again asked Jehovah what he should do. God gave him this clear answer: “Go up, for I shall without fail give the Philistines into your hands.” (2 Samuel 5:18, 19) A little while later, the Philistines fought against David again. What would David do this time? He could have thought that he knew what to do because he had been in this situation twice before. He could have decided to fight God’s enemies. But David did not rely on himself and on his past experience. So he again prayed to Jehovah. This time Jehovah gave him a different answer. David must have been happy that he asked Jehovah to direct him! (2 Samuel 5:22, 23) We may think some problems are easy to solve, but we must be careful not to rely on ourselves and our past experience.—Read Jeremiah 10:23.
14. What can we learn from the account of Joshua and the Gibeonites?
14 We are imperfect. So all of us, even if we are experienced elders, must never forget to ask Jehovah to direct us when we make decisions. Joshua and the older men of Israel did not ask Jehovah for direction when the Gibeonites came to ask Joshua not to fight against them. Even though the Gibeonites were from the nearby city of Gibeon, they made themselves look as if they came from somewhere far away. Joshua and the older men did not ask Jehovah for direction, and they made an agreement not to fight against the Gibeonites. It is true that Jehovah did not cancel the agreement. But he had this account put in the Bible so that we would know that Joshua and the older men did not ask for his direction. We should always ask Jehovah to direct us before we make decisions.—Joshua 9:3-6, 14, 15.
WHEN WE ARE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS
15. Why is prayer important to help us fight temptation?
15 Because we all are sinners, we need to do everything we can to fight against our sinful desires. (Romans 7:21-25) But we can win the fight. How? Jesus told his followers that they must pray for help to fight temptation. (Read Luke 22:40.) Even though we pray, we may still have wrong desires or thoughts. If so, we need to “keep on asking God” for wisdom to help us fight temptations. The Bible tells us that God gives wisdom “generously to all and without reproaching.” (James 1:5) James tells us something else that can give us strength to fight wrong desires. He says a person can “call the older men of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well.”—James 5:14, 15.
16, 17. When we need help to resist temptation, when is the best time to pray?
16 We cannot be successful in resisting temptation if we do not pray. But we need to remember to pray at the right time. Think about what happened to the young man mentioned at Proverbs 7:6-23. One evening he walked down a street where he knew an immoral woman lived. She invited the young man to her home. He could not resist the temptation, and he followed her, just like a bull that is taken to the slaughter. Why did the young man go to that street? The Bible says that he was “in want of heart.” He was probably struggling with wrong desires. (Proverbs 7:7) When would it have been the right time for him to pray? Of course, it would have been good if he had prayed at any time while the woman was speaking to him. But the best time for him to pray would have been when he first had the idea of walking down that street.
17 Today, a man may be trying to avoid looking at pornography. But what if he went to Internet sites where he knows there are sexual videos or pictures? This would be the same situation as the young man in Proverbs chapter 7. It would be like walking down a road with many dangers. To resist the temptation to look at pornography, we need to ask for Jehovah’s help in prayer. If we feel the desire to look at pornography, we need to stop and pray before we go to Internet sites that we know are dangerous.
18, 19. (a) Why is it hard to fight temptation? How can we win the fight? (b) What are you determined to do?
18 It is not easy to fight against temptation or bad habits. The apostle Paul said: “The flesh is against the spirit in its desire, and the spirit against the flesh.” So the very things that we would like to do, we do not do. (Galatians 5:17) To win this fight, we need to pray with all our heart when wrong thoughts or temptations first come to our mind. Then we need to work hard to avoid those wrong things. Remember that “no temptation has taken you except what is common to men.” With Jehovah’s help, we can stay faithful to him.—1 Corinthians 10:13.
19 Prayer is a wonderful gift that can help us when we are experiencing difficult situations, making important decisions, or fighting temptations. When we pray to Jehovah, we show that we rely on him. We should also keep asking God for his holy spirit to guide us and to give us strength. (Luke 11:9-13) Let us always trust in Jehovah and not lean on our own understanding.
^ par. 1 Names have been changed.
SOME WORDS EXPLAINED
▪ To lean upon our own understanding means to think that we know best and that we can ignore Jehovah
▪ Temptation: A desire to do what we know is wrong
WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?
▪ What did you learn about trusting in Jehovah from Hezekiah, Hannah, and Jonah?
▪ How do the examples of David and Joshua show us that we need to be careful when making decisions?
▪ Why is it important to pray at the right time?
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We show that we trust in Jehovah when we do things his way
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No matter how difficult our situation is, we should pray to Jehovah and ask him for help
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When making decisions, we should always look for Jehovah’s guidance and not rely on our own understanding
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We need to pray for Jehovah’s help when wrong thoughts or temptations first come to our mind
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To fight temptation, when will prayer benefit us the most?