How to Pray in Accordance With God’s Will
The Outcomes and the Content of Prayer
What can be effected through prayer? We have to be clear on this. First of all, prayer can enable man to understand God’s word, to understand the truth of His word. This is the first outcome. Secondly, prayer can enable us to understand God’s will, to understand what He requires of us. Thirdly, prayer can increase our faith; in times of trial and tribulation, in particular, prayer enables us to confidently walk the road ahead. Fourthly, prayer enables us to feel God as dear and lovely, and to grow a heart that loves God and satisfies Him. Finally, prayer enables us to truly know God, especially His disposition, His loveliness, and His wondrous works. The more we pray, the more we sense the wonder of God, the more we engage with Him. Hence, the more we pray, the more we come to know God. Prayer is the only way for man to come into contact with God’s Spirit. Without prayer, you have no means to contact God’s Spirit. God sees into man’s heart, yet man cannot see Him. But through prayer we grasp the work of the Holy Spirit, we understand the work of the Holy Spirit and know what the Holy Spirit does upon us and with what effects. This produces real knowledge of God. Prayer can effect so many outcomes upon us, and has then an immeasurable effect on our salvation through belief in God, on our entering the truth to our final perfection by God. A heart that truly loves God is won through prayer. When man does not pray or prays little, he does not know God, and even should he wish to love God he will fail. Through prayer we are able to know something of how God’s Spirit acts, what it is to be moved by God’s Spirit; we are able to know something of God. In this way, we can see His wondrousness, and a heart is born within us that loves Him. Thus, contacting God’s Spirit through prayer results in a genuine knowledge of God. Now, many people know how to pray, and have some experience of it. It is through this experience that they have learned how to have their prayers heard, and what kind of prayers God will not answer. I believe all of us have some experience and knowledge of this. What is the nature of prayers that God hears? It must be a prayer that accords with His will. If we pray to God to seek an understanding of the truth, do you think this accords with His will? If we pray for guidance of the Holy Spirit, does this accord with His will? Such prayers are all in accordance with His will. Praying to seek out God’s will, to seek out what He requires of us, accords too with His will. Praying for God to deal with real difficulties within our family accords with His will: When we seek to entrust the unbelievers in our family to God for Him to save them, that accords too with His will. When we pray for our brothers and sisters, when we pray for those religious people to return to God, this all accords with God’s will. When we meet with persecution, with adversity or are faced with all kinds of disasters and we pray for God’s deliverance, this too accords with His will. You can say that all prayers that accord with His will, will be heard. Then what might you pray for that does not accord with His will? Some pray to be rich; do you think that accords with God’s will? Some pray for their children to get into university; does that accord with His will? Some pray for God to find them a good job with more money; does that accord with His will? Or some pray for God to find them a suitable spouse; does that accord with His will? None of these prayers accord with God’s will. It is clear now too what kind of prayers do not accord with His will, isn’t it? How should we then distinguish between those things we pray for that are in accordance with God’s will and those that are not? We must be able to distinguish. We have to figure out in our own hearts the things we encounter that can be brought before God in prayer. Since the work of God is to save man, if what we pray for is in contradiction to our seeking salvation from God, if it conflicts with that, and is not beneficial to our salvation, then we need not pray for such a thing. For example, if you wish to go among the unbelievers to get rich, is this not rebellion? Does praying for this accord with God’s will? For certain, it does not. Do not pray or ask for anything that betrays God, or that offends Him. So, we have to distinguish which things accord with God’s will and should be put in our prayers, and which things do not. Furthermore, there are times we encounter something, and we are faced with a choice: Do we choose to care for God’s will or care for and submit to the flesh? These are times when we are tested to see which road we will take; this is temptation coming upon us. Therefore, in praying we must make distinction; we should pray for whatever things we ought to. How do we judge which things we should pray for, and according to what do we ascertain them? We discern them on the basis of God’s work, on the basis of His word. Judging from the work God does, do the things we pray for conflict with God’s work? Do they interrupt His work? Are they beneficial to our seeking salvation? We ascertain the things we should pray for on these grounds. And what problem does this touch upon? In praying before God man must possess conscience and reason, he must possess a pure and open, an honest heart; you cannot be deceitful with God, you must be pure and open. You must possess a heart that seeks the truth, a heart that thirsts for the truth. Most importantly, you must possess a heart that genuinely loves God, a heart obedient to God. Only in this way, when coming before Him to pray, are we pleasing to God. If the heart you bear within does not love God, is not obedient to Him, and yet you pray, saying “God, what am I to do in this matter?”, and you are not willing to obey, then you are seeking God’s agreement to your rebelling against Him, to resisting Him. Is this not an expression of blasphemy? Such prayer will not be pleasing to God, and He will say, “When you pray you still are disobeying Me, you still are going against Me, you are not seeking the truth at all, you have not an iota of obedience in you.” So, there are prayers that do not accord with God’s will, that go against God, that disobey Him; and you must not make these prayers to Him. If you pray thus, you are going against God; to put it seriously, this is blasphemy. What we bring before God to pray for must accord with His will; we must be genuinely seeking truth, and not testing God. There are some whose prayers are testing in nature; they are only too eager for God to fulfill their wishes, to satisfy their needs of the flesh, to satisfy their extravagant desires. If man comes before God to pray with such a heart, this is utterly unacceptable to Him for this is an expression of going against Him, of opposing Him. In addition, there are some meaningless things we need not pray for. What are the meaningless things? Some will pray to God as to whether they should read His word, or whether they should meet together; there are even some who will pray to Him as to whether they should eat, or whether they should go shopping. They ask God whether He agrees, whether He permits. I ask you, does such prayer have any meaning? Such people appear a little crazy; they’re not too normal. I have observed that some people with the work of evil spirits pray much this way: They even pray to God about going to the restroom, about whether they’re allowed; when they go to eat, they ask Him whether they’re allowed. Even more absurd are those who, when they go to do any little thing, have God do it for them: When they go out the door, they have God watch over their home, protect their property and keep thieves away. Don’t you think praying for these kinds of things is absurd? What kind of prayers a person puts before God proves what kind of person they are. What someone absurd prays for is also absurd.
The Path of Practice to Pray in Accordance With God’s Words
“What is the effect to be achieved by prayer?
People are able to carry out the practice of prayer and understand the significance of prayer, but the effect to be achieved by prayer is no simple matter. Prayer is not a case of going through the formalities, or following procedure, or reciting the words of God, which is to say, prayer does not mean parroting words and copying others. In prayer, you must give your heart to God, sharing the words in your heart with God so that you may be touched by God. If your prayers are to be effective, then they must be based on your reading of God’s words. Only by praying amid God’s words will you be able to receive more enlightenment and illumination. A true prayer is shown by having a heart that yearns for the requirements made by God, and being willing to fulfill these requirements; you will be able to hate all that God hates, upon the basis of which you will have knowledge, and will know and be clear about the truths explained by God. Having the resolution, and faith, and knowledge, and a path by which to practice after praying—only this is truly praying, and only prayer such as this can be effective. Yet prayer must be built upon the foundation of enjoying God’s words and communing with God in His words, your heart being able to seek God and being at peace before God. Such prayer has already reached the point of true communion with God.” Here is one of the most critical issues of prayer: It must be built on reading the words of God. It is communing with God about His words and praying to Him about His words. If we do not read God’s words, what do we commune with Him about? It’s like not having a suitable subject to commune about. When we have read a piece of God’s words, then we feel, “Ah, we have learned something. Now we know God’s will, and we see that amid His words there are many demands on us and that there are still places not clear to us; there are plenty of subjects like this upon which we should commune with God. There are plenty of subjects too on which to beseech God, plenty of subjects too for which we should seek the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, plenty of places as well where we must seek obedience to God and satisfy Him and plenty of subjects too on the matter of how we are to meet His demands.” In this way the words of our prayers to God are now really plentiful. The more you read God’s words, the more prayers you have to Him; the more you read God’s words, the more you know what the most important, the most essential things are that you should pray for. Therefore, being able to quiet your heart before God and read His words will naturally engender a great many prayers. These prayers are precisely the effects the Holy Spirit wants in working upon us. Thus, whatever you pray for about God’s words accords with God’s will. Is it clear what “praying to God about God’s words” means? Why are all these prayers generated from having read God’s words? First of all, as there are places amid God’s words that we do not understand, we need to seek the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t this something we ought to pray for? This is the first subject for prayer. The second is that having seen God’s demands in His words, when we understand these demands, we should commune with God and commit to Him, telling Him how we should satisfy these demands. Isn’t this something we ought to pray for? The third subject is that having understood God’s will amid His words, we get to know something of Him. Shouldn’t we pray to God and commune with Him on this? Yes, on this subject too we should pray to and commune with Him; in communing with God the Holy Spirit enlightens us and illuminates us allowing us to have genuine knowledge of Him. So, the more we read God’s words, the more subjects we have to pray about and the more the words of our prayers. If you go several days without reading God’s words, and your heart is hollow, at such times when you want to pray, you won’t know what to say. Sometimes someone hasn’t prayed for a good few days. Someone else says, “Let’s pray.” “But pray for what? What am I going to say to God?” You see, you don’t have God’s words in your heart, so you have nothing to say in prayer. When your heart is filled with God’s words, and you are savoring them, pondering them, the words of your prayers increase. Isn’t it the case? I expect you have all experienced this. It is here that we find a problem, namely: How is prayer engendered? It is engendered through reading God’s words. The more we read His words, the more we pursue to understand His words, the more we are willing to put His words into practice, the more the words our prayers come to have. This is a fact. Have you had this experience? Are your prayers now the kind centered around God’s words? You have to pray according to God’s words, to center your prayers around His words. The subjects we pray about are all those ones that His words raise. The scope of our prayers is determined in His words.
How to Tell the Corruption Revealed in Prayer
Nowadays there are corruptions revealed in the prayers of most people. Let us now talk about them once again. The first is boasting, empty talk, telling falsehoods, tricking and deceiving God. Telling falsehoods is to trick God into giving His blessing, to deceive Him into liking you; these are its purposes. Sometimes turning the facts upside down is also to tell falsehoods; it is to deliberately tell falsehoods for your own ends. Sometimes it’s to demean others to build yourself up; this too is a revelation of corruption. Making false promises to trick God into having a good impression of them, to trick Him into giving His blessing is another type of corruption manifested too in the prayers of people. And what does “making empty promises” mean? There’s often this kind of prayer: “Oh God, I’m willing to give it all to You, to dedicate everything to You.” You say it, but don’t do it; isn’t this just making empty promises? You say, “Oh God, I will spare nothing for Your sake, I dedicate this heart of mine to You, I am willing to faithfully serve You and be loyal right to the end.” The result is that having said whatever you’ll do, you still go rebelling against God in whatever way you can. Isn’t this deceiving God? Someone says, “Oh God, I’m willing to leave everything behind.” Yet having said so, they abandon nothing. Someone says, “Oh God, I am willing to love You all my days.” Actually, they end up having loved only themselves all their days, and not God. What they love is the flesh, their own children, what they love after all is wealth. You see, those are all empty words to deceive God; before God a number of people, at least, reveal such corruption. A more serious corruption is also revealed when someone prays for God to satisfy them, and do service for them; they want God to attend to what they lack, resolve their own difficulties, and fulfill their own demands. These demands of theirs in fact are all to satisfy the flesh, to satisfy their own families. Their demands are not to satisfy their pursuit of truth to reach salvation, but to live the good life, to make them rich, to make their family happy; they pray for these things and wish to have God satisfy their demands. This is the most serious rebellion against God. God works to save man. God saves man by having him undergo trials of all kinds, even by annihilating his family, so that they can reach salvation amidst trials. Yet man does just the opposite: He asks God to satisfy and bless his family. Does this accord with God’s will? Knowing full well God’s will, man persists yet in rebelling against Him and asking God to satisfy his own purposes; this is the most serious manifestation of resisting God. Of course, there is an even more serious manifestation, which is to argue with God in one’s prayers, to reason with Him, to complain that God is unjust. For instance, someone’s family meets with disaster, his loved ones die, or he meets some misfortune. He says, “Oh God, have I spared anything for Your sake? Have I not done my bit? Do I not already truly believe in and follow You? Why do You visit such things upon me? The unbelievers all say that God is unjust; can God really be unjust? Is this true?” You see, this is blaming God, remonstrating against Him, arguing things out with Him. Is this not a manifestation of resisting God? This is a very serious matter. There are some others who are always angling after some position in the church; they keep wanting to form a group of their own to fight with another, to have their own sphere of influence. The result is they cause a disturbance to the church, a dismantlement of it. We call this “doing evil of every kind.” Having done their evil of every kind, what do they then say to God, when they pray? They say they are caring about God’s will; that they are uniting together those who truly love God; that they condemn those who resist God, who do not love God. They say that only they do right, while others only do wrong. You see, they sow discord among people and even bring this discord before God, telling tales in their prayers to Him. What do you think? Are these people unreasonable? They even tell their tales in speaking to God, even justify themselves to Him and quibble for their own ends. Such is the typical agent of Satan; this is the typical disposition of Satan. Before God, they don’t have one iota of the fear of God in their hearts, not one iota of obedience to HimHim, they prattle on with their distorted ideas to argue for their own ends. In their eyes everything they do is right, everything the family of God does is wrong. What the leadership at every level does is wrong, it’s them who are right. What kind of people do you say they are? They are the wicked, aren’t they? They are antichrists, aren’t they? They do not come to seek out truth, or to achieve salvation by experience of and submission to God’s work; they come to cause disturbance, to scramble for position in the church, they believe in God for their own purposes. Are they not lackeys of Satan? Thus, if someone doesn’t pursue the truth, when they come to God’s family, they will do evil and disruptive things for certain. If they have not come in pursuit of truth, for certain they have other intentions in mind. When someone has other intentions in mind, they cannot hide them; they will expose them for certain. After they have done their evil and it is apparent to all, brothers and sisters will have seen through their ugliness and finally abandoned them, and then they cannot stand among God’s family. Do you think that before God such people can have prayers that accord with His will? Can they have prayers of obedience to God, of genuinely seeking out His will? Not at all. They are all prayers filled with confusion of right and wrong and distorted ideas. When such people pray they are blaspheming against God, and in their acts they resist Him. Such are the people we call “the wicked.” Therefore, all believers in God should discern how many of our prayers before God shall in fact be heard, how many of them are pleasing to Him, and how many are resisting, rebelling against Him and are of the kind that reveals corruption. We must be clear on these matters.