Praying HandsJehovah’s Witnesses stress the importance of knowing and using the divine name, “Jehovah.”

They will tell you that Jesus believed the name “Jehovah” was of critical importance, and therefore we should also. The Watchtower asks, “How important is God’s name? Consider the model prayer that Jesus Christ gave. It begins this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.’ (Matthew 6:9) Later, Jesus prayed to God: ‘Father, glorify your name.’ In response, God spoke from heaven, saying: ‘I both glorified it and will glorify it again.’ (John 12:28) Clearly, God’s name is of the utmost importance.”[1] 

Witnesses may also claim that God’s name “was clearly of crucial importance to him [Jesus] since he mentioned it repeatedly in his own prayers.”[2] 

Here is a good soundbite response: “Could you please show me one passage where Jesus begins one of his prayers by saying by addressing God as ‘Jehovah.’”

They won’t be able to find one. Instead, he addressed God as “Father” (Matthew 11:25; 26:39,42; Luke 10:21; 22:42; 23:34,46; John 11:41; 12:27-28; 17:1,5,11,21,24-25) or, when he was dying, as, “My God, my God” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)—never as “Jehovah,” not even in the Watchtower’s own New World Translation.

You can follow that with a second soundbite question: “Can you show me any verse where Jesus taught his disciples to begin their prayers by saying, ‘Jehovah…’”?

 In the Lord’s Prayer (model prayer), Jesus said to address him as “Father.” Apparently, “sanctifying God’s name” did not require them to address him by the divine name.

Make it clear that you don’t believe Jesus was saying that they could address God only as “Father.” Ask them to read aloud Luke 2:29, where godly Simeon addressed God as “Sovereign Lord” (Watchtower’s New World Translation). Ask them to read aloud Acts 4:24 and Revelation 6:10, where the disciples and tribulation martyrs call him that as well. Nowhere are they rebuked for failing to address God either as “Jehovah” or as “Father.”

You can summarize with the following comment:  “I certainly don’t criticize you for beginning your prayers with, ‘Jehovah…’ but do you see why from the verses we just looked at I don’t think that is required or more spiritual than other respectful forms of address?”


Your turn:

Have you ever challenged the Watchtower’s claim that we must pray to Jehovah by name? Do you find these soundbites helpful?

Share your thoughts in the comments.


[1] What Does the Bible Really Teach? (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 2005, 2013 printing), p. 195

[2] The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1984, 2006 printing), p. 3