“In the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”—PS. 22:22.
SONG 9 Praise Jah With Me
1. How did David feel about Jehovah, and what did this motivate him to do?
KING DAVID wrote: “Jehovah is great and most worthy of praise.” (Ps. 145:3) He loved Jehovah, and that love moved him to praise God “in the midst of the congregation.” (Ps. 22:22; 40:5) No doubt, you love Jehovah and agree with David’s words: “May you be praised, O Jehovah the God of Israel our father, throughout all eternity.”—1 Chron. 29:10-13.
2. (a) How can we praise Jehovah? (b) What challenges do some face, and what will we review?
2 Today, one way we praise Jehovah is by commenting during Christian meetings. However, a number of our brothers and sisters face a real challenge. They want to participate in the meetings, but fear prevents them. How can they cope with that fear? And what practical tips can help all of us to give encouraging comments? Before we answer those questions, let us first review four basic reasons why we comment at meetings.
WHY WE COMMENT AT MEETINGS
3-5. (a) As explained at Hebrews 13:15, why do we comment at meetings? (b) Must we all give the same type of comment? Explain.
3 Jehovah has given all of us the privilege to praise him. (Ps. 119:108) Our comments at meetings are part of our “sacrifice of praise,” and no one can offer that sacrifice for us. (Read Hebrews 13:15.) Does Jehovah demand the same type of sacrifice, or comment, from each of us? No, he does not!
4 Jehovah knows that we have different abilities and circumstances, and he deeply appreciates the sacrifices we are able to offer to him. Think of the type of sacrifices that he accepted from the Israelites. Some Israelites were able to offer a lamb or a goat. But a poor Israelite might offer “two turtledoves or two young pigeons.” And if an Israelite could not afford two birds, Jehovah accepted “a tenth of an ephah of fine flour.” (Lev. 5:7, 11) Flour was less expensive, but Jehovah still appreciated that sacrifice, as long as it was “fine flour.”
5 Our kind God feels the same way today. When we give comments, he does not demand that all of us be as eloquent as Apollos or as persuasive as Paul. (Acts 18:24; 26:28) All Jehovah wants is that we give the best comments we can—within our limits. Remember the widow who offered the two small coins. She was precious to Jehovah because she gave the best she could.—Luke 21:1-4.
6. (a) According to Hebrews 10:24, 25, how may the comments that we hear affect us? (b) How can you show appreciation for the answers that encourage you?
6 We encourage one another by our comments. (Read Hebrews 10:24, 25.) All of us appreciate hearing a variety of comments at our meetings. We enjoy the simple, sincere words of a young child. We are inspired by the excitement in the voice of someone who is commenting about a truth that he or she has just discovered. And we admire those who “mustered up courage” to give a comment, even though they are shy or are only beginning to learn our language. (1 Thess. 2:2; ftn.) How can we show appreciation for their effort? We can thank them for their encouraging comment after the meeting. Another way is by giving a comment ourselves. Then not only do we receive encouragement at our meetings but we also give it.—Rom. 1:11, 12.
7. How do we benefit when we comment?
7 We benefit ourselves when we comment. (Isa. 48:17) How so? First, if we plan to give a comment, we are especially motivated to prepare well for the meeting. When we prepare well, we gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word. And the deeper our understanding, the better we can apply the things we learn. Second, we will likely enjoy the meeting more because we are involved in the discussion. Third, because it takes effort to comment, we often remember the points we spoke about long after the meeting ends.
8-9. (a) As revealed at Malachi 3:16, how do you think Jehovah feels about our comments? (b) What challenge might some still face?
8 We please Jehovah when we express our faith. We can be sure that Jehovah listens to us and deeply appreciates the effort we make to comment at meetings. (Read Malachi 3:16.) He shows his appreciation by blessing us when we try hard to please him.—Mal. 3:10.
9 Clearly, we have good reasons to comment at meetings. Still, some may be afraid to raise their hand. If that is how you feel, do not be discouraged. Let us consider some Bible principles, a few examples, and some practical tips that can help all of us to try to comment more at meetings.
COPING WITH FEAR
10. (a) What fear do many of us have? (b) Why might having a fear of answering be a good sign?
10 Do you get a knot in your stomach each time you even think of raising your hand to comment? If so, you are not alone. The truth is that most of us feel some fear when we comment. Before you can cope with this crippling feeling, you need to identify the cause of your fear. Are you afraid that you will forget what you want to say or that you will say the wrong thing? Do you worry that your comment will not be as good as the comments of others? Actually, those fears can be a good sign. They indicate that you are humble and view others as superior to you. Jehovah loves that quality. (Ps. 138:6; Phil. 2:3) But Jehovah also wants you to praise him and to encourage your brothers and sisters at the meetings. (1 Thess. 5:11) He loves you and will give you the courage you need.
11. What Scriptural reminders can help us?
11 Consider some Scriptural reminders. The Bible says that all of us make mistakes in what we say and how we say it. (Jas. 3:2) Jehovah does not expect us to be perfect, and neither do our brothers and sisters. (Ps. 103:12-14) They are our spiritual family, and they love us. (Mark 10:29, 30; John 13:35) They understand that our comments at times do not come out exactly right.
12-13. What do we learn from the examples of Nehemiah and Jonah?
12 Think about some Bible examples that can help you to cope with your fears. Remember Nehemiah. He served in the court of a powerful king. Nehemiah was gloomy because he had heard that the walls and gates of Jerusalem were in ruins. (Neh. 1:1-4) Imagine the knot he might have had in his stomach when the king asked him to explain why he was looking so unhappy! Nehemiah quickly prayed and then gave his answer. In response, the king did much to help God’s people. (Neh. 2:1-8) Think, too, of Jonah. When Jehovah asked him to speak to the inhabitants of Nineveh, Jonah was so scared that he ran in the opposite direction. (Jonah 1:1-3) But with Jehovah’s help, Jonah carried out his assignment. And the words he spoke did much good for those in Nineveh. (Jonah 3:5-10) From Nehemiah we learn the importance of praying before we answer. And from Jonah we learn that Jehovah can help us to serve him despite our greatest fears. Realistically, is any congregation going to be as intimidating as the Ninevites?
13 What practical tips can help you to give encouraging comments at the meetings? Let us consider a few suggestions.
14. Why should we prepare well for our meetings, and when might we do so?
14 Prepare for each meeting. When you plan ahead and prepare well, you will feel more confident about commenting. (Prov. 21:5) Of course, we do not all have the same routine. Eloise, a widow in her 80’s, begins preparing for the Watchtower Study early in the week. She says, “I enjoy the meetings more if I study in advance.” Joy, who works secularly full-time, sets aside time on Saturday to study her Watchtower. “I like to have the material fresh in mind,” she says. Ike, a busy elder who is also a pioneer, says, “I find that it is best for me to study for short periods of time throughout the week rather than in one large chunk of time.”
15. How can you prepare well for a meeting?
15 What is involved in preparing well for the meeting? Begin each study session by asking Jehovah to give you holy spirit. (Luke 11:13; 1 John 5:14) Then take a few minutes to look over the lesson. Analyze the title, subheadings, illustrations, and teaching boxes. As you now study each paragraph, read as many of the cited scriptures as you can. Meditate on the information, giving special attention to points you wish to comment on. The better you prepare, the more you will benefit and the easier it may be for you to comment.—2 Cor. 9:6.
16. What tools are available to you, and how do you use them?
16 If possible for you, use the digital tools provided in a language you know. Jehovah, through his organization, has given us electronic tools to help us prepare for the meetings. The JW Library® app enables us to download study publications onto a mobile device. Then we can study—or at least read or listen to the material—anytime and anywhere. Some use this tool to study during a lunch break at work or at school or while traveling. The Watchtower Library and the Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY™ make it very easy to research points in the lesson that we wish to explore more thoroughly.
17. (a) Why is it good to prepare several comments? (b) What did you learn from the video Become Jehovah’s Friend—Prepare Your Comment?
17 If possible, prepare several comments for each lesson. Why? Because you may not always be called on when you raise your hand. Others will likely raise their hand at the same time, and the conductor might choose one of them. In order to keep the meeting on schedule, the conductor may have to limit the number of comments on any given point. So do not be offended or discouraged if he does not call on you early in the study. If you prepare several comments, you will have more opportunities to share in the discussion. One of the comments you prepare could involve reading a scripture. But if you can, also prepare to give a comment, using your own words. *
18. Why give brief comments?
18 Give brief comments. Often, the most encouraging comments are short and simple. So aim at keeping your answers brief. Try limiting them to about 30 seconds. (Prov. 10:19; 15:23) If you have been answering at meetings for many years, you have an important role to play—setting a good example by keeping your comments brief. If you give complex comments that last several minutes, others may feel intimidated, thinking that they will not be able to match your ability at answering. Also, brief comments allow time for more people to participate in the meeting. Especially if you are called on first, give a simple, direct answer to the question. Do not try to cover all the points in a paragraph. After the main idea of the paragraph has been discussed, you may comment on supplementary points.—See the box “What Can I Comment On?”
19. How can the conductor help you, but what will you have to do?
19 Let the conductor know that you would like to comment on a specific paragraph. If you choose to do this, you should approach the conductor well before the meeting begins. When it is time to comment on that paragraph, put your hand up quickly and high enough so that the conductor can see it.
20. How is a congregation meeting like a meal shared with friends?
20 View the congregation meetings like a meal shared with good friends. Imagine that some friends in the congregation planned a barbecue and asked you to prepare some small item of food. How would you respond? You might feel a little anxious, but you would likely do your best to bring something that everyone could enjoy. Jehovah, our Host, has provided a table full of good things for us at our meetings. (Ps. 23:5; Matt. 24:45) And he is pleased when we bring a simple gift, the best that we can give. So prepare well and participate as freely as you can. Then you will not only feed at Jehovah’s table but also bring a gift to share with the congregation.
SONG 138 Jehovah Is Your Name
^ par. 5 Like the psalmist David, all of us love Jehovah and enjoy praising him. We have a special opportunity to express our love for God when we meet with our congregation for worship. Some of us, however, find it difficult to comment at our meetings. If you face that challenge, this article can help you identify your fears and work on overcoming them.
^ par. 17 On jw.org, watch the video Become Jehovah’s Friend—Prepare Your Comment. Look under BIBLE TEACHINGS > CHILDREN.
^ par. 63 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Members of a congregation are joyfully sharing in a discussion of The Watchtower.
^ par. 65 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Some members of the congregation who were shown earlier participating in the Watchtower Study. Even though each of them has different circumstances, they all set aside time to study the lesson for the meeting.