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 beloved, 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 touch 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 touch 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 understand 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 man is tested, and we see which road man 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, 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 what the work is that 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 contravening 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, prayers that you must not pray 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 who are afflicted by 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.