God listens to people from all nations. (Psalm 145:18, 19) His Word, the Bible, encourages us to speak to him about any matter that concerns us. (Philippians 4:6, 7) Yet, some prayers displease God. For example, repeating memorized prayers does not please him.—Read Matthew 6:7.
Also, Jehovah dislikes the prayers of people who willfully disregard his law. (Proverbs 28:9) For example, in Bible times, God refused to listen to Israelites who were guilty of murder. Ask yourself; Are you a soldier? Do you engaged in war or are you ready to do so, even against other christians? God does not listen to those who are determined to offend him by their actions. For example, God told those who claimed to serve him but acted rebelliously: “
Even though you make many prayers, I am not listening; with bloodshed your very hands have become filled.” (Isaiah 1:15) But if they had changed their ways and “
set matters straight” with God, he would have listened when they prayed to him.—Isaiah 1:18. Clearly, we must meet certain requirements to be heard by God.
What must we do to be heard by God?
We cannot approach God in prayer without faith. (James 1:5, 6) We must be convinced that he exists and cares about us. We can strengthen our faith by studying the Bible because true faith is based on the evidence and assurances found in God’s Word.—Read Hebrews 11:1,6.
We should pray sincerely and humbly. Even God’s Son, Jesus, was humble when he prayed. (Luke 22:41, 42) So, rather than tell God what to do, we should try to understand his requirements by reading the Bible. Then we can pray in harmony with God’s will.—Read 1 John 5:14.
Will God Help Me if I Pray?
The Bible’s answer
Yes, God helps those who sincerely ask for things that are in harmony with his will. Even if you haven’t prayed before, the Bible’s examples of those who prayed, “God, help me,” can encourage you. For example:
O Jehovah my God, help me; save me according to Your mercy.”—Psalm 109:26, A Literal Translation of the Bible.
I am needy and poor: O God, help me.”—Psalm 69:6, Douay Version.
Of course, the writer of those words had strong faith in God. Yet, God listens to all who come to him with the right attitude, such as those who are “
broken at heart” or “
crushed in spirit.”—Psalm 34:18.
You need not fear that God is so distant that he is not concerned with your problems. The Bible says: “
Jehovah is high, and yet the humble one he sees; but the lofty one he knows only from a distance.” (Psalm 138:6) In fact, Jesus once told his disciples: “
The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) God observes details about you that even you are not aware of. How much more, then, will he listen if you pray for his help with your anxieties!—1 Peter 5:7
What Can I Pray For?
The Bible’s answer
You can pray for anything that is in harmony with God’s requirements as stated in the Bible. “
No matter what it is that we ask according to [God’s] will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Can you mention your personal concerns? Yes. The Bible says: “
Before [God] pour out your heart.”—Psalm 62:8.
Examples of what to pray for
Faith in God.—Luke 17:5.
Holy spirit, or God’s active force, to help you do what is right.—Luke 11:13.
Strength to deal with troubles and to resist temptation.—Philippians 4:13.
Inner peace or calmness.—Philippians 4:6, 7.
Wisdom to make good decisions.—James 1:5.
Help with daily needs.—Matthew 6:11.
Forgiveness of sins.—Matthew 6:12.
Why Pray in Jesus’ Name?
The Bible’s answer
We must pray to God in Jesus’ name because this is the only way God has approved for us to approach Him. Jesus said: “
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus also told his faithful apostles: “
Most truly I say to you, If you ask the Father for anything he will give it to you in my name.”—John 16:23.
More reasons to pray in Jesus’ name
We honor Jesus and his Father, Jehovah God.—Philippians 2:9-11.
We show that we appreciate Jesus’ death as God’s provision for our salvation.—Matthew 20:28; Acts 4:12.
We recognize Jesus’ unique role as Intercessor between God and men.—Hebrews 7:25.
We respect Jesus’ service as the High Priest who can help us gain a good standing with God.—Hebrews 4:14-16.
Should I Pray to Saints?
The Bible’s answer
No. The Bible shows that we should pray only to God, in Jesus’ name. Jesus told his disciples: “
This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9, New American Bible) Never did he instruct his disciples to pray to saints, angels, or anyone other than God.
Jesus also told his followers: “
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NAB) Only Jesus is authorized by God to intercede on our behalf.—Hebrews 7:25.
What if I pray to God and also pray to saints?
As part of the Ten Commandments, God said: “
I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:5, NAB) In what way is God “jealous”? The footnote in the New American Bible says that he is “
demanding exclusive allegiance.” God demands that acts of allegiance or worship—including prayer—be directed exclusively to him.—Isaiah 48:11.
We offend God if we pray to anyone else, even to saints or holy angels. When the apostle John tried to worship an angel, the angel stopped him by saying: “
Don’t! I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers who bear witness to Jesus. Worship God.”—Revelation 19:10, NAB.
Why Pray? Will God Answer Me?
The Bible’s answer
Yes, he will. Both the Bible and real-life experience show that God answers prayers. The Bible says: “
The desire of those fearing [God] he will perform, and their cry for help he will hear, and he will save them.” (Psalm 145:19) But whether God will answer you when you pray is largely up to you.
What matters to God
Praying to God, not to Jesus, Mary, saints, angels, or images. Only Jehovah God is the “
Hearer of prayer.”—Psalm 65:2.
Praying in harmony with God’s will, or requirements, which are found in the Bible.—1 John 5:14.
Praying in Jesus’ name, recognizing his authority. “
No one comes to the Father except through me,” said Jesus.—John 14:6.
Praying in faith, asking for more faith if needed.—Matthew 21:22;Luke 17:5.
Being humble and sincere. The Bible says: “
Jehovah is high, and yet the humble one he sees.”—Psalm 138:6.
Being persistent. Jesus said: “
Keep on asking, and it will be given you.”—Luke 11:9.
What doesn’t matter to God
Your race or nationality. “
God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35.
Your bodily position or posture. You can pray to God while sitting, bowing, kneeling, or standing.—1 Chronicles 17:16; Nehemiah 8:6;Daniel 6:10; Mark 11:25.
Whether you pray aloud or silently. God answers even silent prayers that others aren’t aware of.—Nehemiah 2:1-6.
Whether your concerns are weighty or trivial. God encourages you to “
throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7.
God tolerates no mixing of idolatrous practices with true worship, as is illustrated by his condemnation of calf worship. Even when God’s own chosen people, the Israelites, had attached his name thereto and made a festival to him! His response is impossible to mistake, he told moses directly
“Your people..have corrupted themselves…They have quickly deviated from the way…They have made for themselves a statue…and they keep bowing down..and sacrificing to it…let me be..I will exterminate them in my burning anger” . (Ex 32:3-10)
Do you bow down to any image, or in any way use one when you pray? In the example above 3000 People did. Moses said to the people: “You committed a very great sin” and so they were cut down with swords, leaving no doubt, this is an utmost serious matter to God indeed.
“I am Jehovah, That is my Name. To no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images,” he says. (Isaiah 42:8) For this reason, it is also wrong to make an image as an aid to worship. When an Israelite leader named Aaron in above example did so, Jehovah was deeply offended