Watchtower, May 15, 1990, pp.11-12 Fear Jehovah, the Hearer of Prayer
Fear Jehovah, the Hearer of Prayer
A Restricted Privilege
6 Human kings do not allow just anyone to enter into the royal palace unannounced. An audience with a king is a restricted privilege. So is prayer to the King of eternity. Of course, those approaching him through Jesus Christ with proper appreciation of God's glorious majesty can expect to be heard. The King Eternal must be approached with a reverent, worshipful attitude. And those desiring to be heard must display "the fear of Jehovah."-Proverbs 1:7.
7 What is "the fear of Jehovah"? It is profound reverence for God, coupled with a wholesome dread of displeasing him. This awe stems from deep gratitude for his loving-kindness and goodness. (Psalm 106:1) It involves acknowledging him as the King of eternity, who has the right and the power to bring punishment, including death, upon anyone disobeying him. Persons manifesting the fear of Jehovah may pray to him with the expectation of being heard.
8 Naturally, God does not answer the prayers of wicked, unfaithful, and self-righteous people. (Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 1:15; Luke 18:9-14) But those who fear Jehovah are heard because they have conformed to his righteous standards. Yet, they have done more. Fearers of Jehovah have made a dedication to God in prayer and symbolized this by undergoing water baptism. They thus have an unrestricted privilege of prayer.
9 To be heard by God, a person must express prayerful sentiments that are in harmony with the divine will. Yes, he must be sincere, but more is required. "Without faith it is impossible to please [God] well," wrote the apostle Paul, "for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him." (Hebrews 11:6) Well, then, can unbaptized persons be encouraged to pray with the hope of being heard?
10 Aware that prayer is a restricted privilege, King Solomon asked that Jehovah hear only foreigners who prayed toward God's temple in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 8:41-43) Centuries later, the Gentile foreigner Cornelius "made supplication to God continually" as a devout man. Upon gaining accurate knowledge, Cornelius dedicated himself to God, who then gave him the holy spirit. Following this, Cornelius and other Gentiles were baptized. (Acts 10:1-44) Like Cornelius, anyone today progressing toward dedication may be encouraged to pray. But an individual who is insincere about studying the Scriptures, does not know the divine requirements for prayer, and has not yet displayed an attitude pleasing to God cannot be said to fear Jehovah, have faith, or be earnestly seeking him. Such a person is not in position to offer prayers acceptable to God.
11 Some who were at one time progressing toward dedication later may seem to be holding back. If they do not have enough love for God in their heart to make an unreserved dedication to him, they ought to ask themselves whether they still have the wonderful privilege of prayer. Apparently not, because those approaching God must be earnestly seeking him and also righteousness and meekness. (Zephaniah 2:3) Everyone who really fears Jehovah is a believer who makes a dedication to God and symbolizes it by getting baptized. (Acts 8:13; 18:8) And only baptized believers have an unrestricted privilege of approaching the King Eternal in prayer.