XI Classic Words on Entering Into the Reality of the Truth
(II) Words on Praying to and Worshiping God
11. Prayer is not a type of ritual; it is a true communion between people and God, and it carries a profound significance. What can we see from people’s prayers? We can see that they are directly serving God. If you look at prayer as a ritual, then you will certainly not serve God well. If your prayers are not done in earnest or with sincerity, then it can be said that from God’s point of view, you as a person do not exist; that being the case, how can you have the Holy Spirit working on you? The result will be that after working for a period of time, you will be exhausted. From now on, without prayer, you will not be able to do work. It is prayer that brings about work, and prayer that brings about service. If you are a person who leads and who serves God, yet you have never devoted yourself to prayer or ever been serious in your prayers, then the manner in which you serve will end up causing you to fall. … If you can frequently come into God’s presence, and can pray to Him often, it proves that you treat God as God. If you often do things by yourself and often neglect to pray, doing this and that behind His back, then you are not serving God; rather, you are merely carrying out your own business. As such, will you not be condemned? From the outside, it will not appear as though you have done anything disruptive, nor will it seem that you have blasphemed God, but you will just be doing your own thing. In doing so, are you not interrupting? Even if, on the surface, it looks as though you are not, in essence you are resisting God.
Excerpted from “The Significance and Practice of Prayer” in Records of Christ’s Talks
12. After God created mankind and gave them spirits, He enjoined them that if they didn’t call out to God, then they would not be able to connect with His Spirit and thus the “satellite television” from heaven would not be received on earth. When God is no longer in people’s spirits there is an empty seat left open for other things, and that’s how Satan seizes the opportunity to get in. When people contact God with their hearts, Satan immediately goes into a panic and rushes to escape. Through mankind’s cries God gives them what they need, but He does not “reside” within them at first. He just constantly gives them aid because of their cries and people gain hardiness from that internal strength so that Satan dare not come here to “play” at its will. This way, if people constantly connect with God’s Spirit, Satan dare not come to disrupt. Without Satan’s disruption, all of people’s lives are normal and God has the opportunity to work within them without any obstructions. This way, what God wants to do can be achieved through humans.
Excerpted from “Chapter 17” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh
(Selected Passage of God’s Word)
Concerning the Practice of Prayer
You place no importance on prayer in your daily lives. Man neglects the matter of prayer. Prayers used to be perfunctory, with man simply going through the motions before God. No man ever offered his heart fully before God and engaged in true prayer with God. Man prayed to God only when trouble arose. In all this time, have you ever truly prayed to God? Has there ever been a time when you wept tears of pain before God? Has there been a time when you came to know yourself before Him? Have you ever had a heart-to-heart prayer with God? Prayer comes through practice: If you do not ordinarily pray at home, then you will have no way of praying in church, and if you do not normally pray in small gatherings, then you will be incapable of praying in large ones. If you do not regularly draw near to God or ruminate upon the words of God, then you will have nothing to say when it is time to pray, and even if you do pray, you will just be paying lip service; it will not be true prayer.
What is true prayer? It is telling God what is in your heart, communing with God as you grasp His will, communicating with God through His words, feeling especially close to God, sensing He is there before you, and believing you have something to say to Him. Your heart feels filled with light and you feel how loveable God is. You feel especially inspired, and listening to you brings gratification to your brothers and sisters. They will feel that the words you speak are the words within their hearts, the words they wish to say, as though your words were a substitute for their own. This is what true prayer is. After you have engaged in true prayer, your heart will be at peace and will know gratification. The strength to love God can rise up, and you will feel that there is nothing of greater value or significance in life than loving God. All this proves that your prayers have been effective. Have you ever prayed in such a way?
And what about the content of prayer? Your prayer should proceed step by step, in line with the true state of your heart and the work of the Holy Spirit; you come to commune with God in accordance with His will and with what He requires of man. When you begin the practice of prayer, first give your heart to God. Do not attempt to grasp God’s will—only try to speak the words within your heart to God. When you come before God, speak in this way: “Oh God, only today do I realize that I used to disobey You. I am truly corrupt and despicable. I have only been wasting my life. From today I will live for You. I will live a life of meaning and will satisfy Your will. May Your Spirit always work in me, continuously illuminating and enlightening me. Let me bear strong and resounding testimony before You. Let Satan see Your glory, Your testimony, and the proof of Your triumph, manifest in us.” When you pray in this way, your heart will be completely set free. Having prayed in this way, your heart will be closer to God, and if you can pray in this way often, the Holy Spirit will inevitably work in you. If you always call out to God in this way, and make your resolution before Him, a day will come when your resolution is acceptable before God, when your heart and your entire being are gained by God, and you are ultimately made perfect by Him. For you, prayer is of utmost importance. When you pray and you receive the work of the Holy Spirit, your heart will be moved by God, and strength to love God will issue forth. If you do not pray with your heart, if you do not open your heart to commune with God, then God will have no way of working in you. If, after having prayed and spoken the words of your heart, the Spirit of God has not begun His work, and you have received no inspiration, then this shows your heart lacks sincerity, your words are untrue, and still impure. If, after having prayed, you have a sense of gratification, then your prayers have been acceptable to God and the Spirit of God is working in you. As one who serves before God, you cannot be without prayer. If you truly see communion with God as something that is meaningful and valuable, then can you forsake prayer? No one can be without communion with God. Without prayer, you live in the flesh, in bondage to Satan; without true prayer, you live under the influence of darkness. I hope that you brothers and sisters are able to engage in true prayer each and every day. This is not about following the rules, but about achieving a certain result. Are you willing to forgo a little sleep and enjoyment to rise early for morning prayers and enjoy the words of God? If you pray with a pure heart and eat and drink the words of God like this, you will be more acceptable to Him. If every morning you do this, if every day you practice giving your heart to God, communicating and engaging with Him, then your knowledge of God will certainly increase, and you will be better able to grasp God’s will. You say: “O God! I am willing to fulfill my duty. Only to You do I consecrate my whole being, so that You may be glorified in us, so that You may enjoy the testimony borne by this group of us. I beg You to work in us, so that I may become able to truly love You and satisfy You and pursue You as my goal.” As you take on this burden, God will surely make you perfect. You should not pray only for your own benefit, but you should pray also in order to follow God’s will and to love Him. This is the truest kind of prayer. Are you someone who prays for the sake of following the will of God?
In the past, you did not know how to pray, and you neglected the matter of prayer. Now, you must do your best to train yourselves to pray. If you are unable to summon up the strength within you to love God, then how do you pray? You say: “Oh God, my heart is incapable of truly loving You. I want to love You, but I lack the strength. What should I do? May You open my spiritual eyes and may Your Spirit move my heart. Make it so that, as I come before You, I throw off all that is negative, cease to be constrained by any person, matter, or thing, and lay my heart completely bare before You, and make it so that I may offer my entire being before You. However You may test me, I am ready. Now, I give no consideration to my future prospects, nor am I under the yoke of death. With a heart that loves You, I desire to seek the way of life. Every matter, everything—it is all in Your hands; my fate is in Your hands and You hold my very life in Your hand. Now, I seek to love You, and regardless of whether You let me love You, regardless of how Satan interferes, I am determined to love You.” When you encounter this issue, pray like this. If you pray like this every day, the strength to love God will gradually rise up.
How does one enter into true prayer?
When praying, you must have a heart that is quiet before God, and you must have a sincere heart. You are truly communing and praying with God—you must not deceive God using nice-sounding words. Prayer should center upon that which God wishes to accomplish right now. Ask God to grant you greater enlightenment and illumination, bring your actual states and your troubles into His presence when you pray, including the resolution that you made before God. Prayer is not about following procedure; it is about seeking God with a sincere heart. Ask that God protect your heart, so that your heart may often be quiet before Him; that in the environment in which He has placed you, you would know yourself, despise yourself, and forsake yourself, thus allowing you to have a proper relationship with God and truly become someone who loves God.
What is the significance of prayer?
Prayer is one of the ways in which man cooperates with God, it is a means by which man calls upon God, and it is the process by which man is moved by God’s Spirit. It can be said that those without prayer are dead people who are devoid of spirit, which proves that they lack the faculty to be moved by God. Without prayer, it would be impossible to lead a proper spiritual life, much less keep up with the work of the Holy Spirit. To be without prayer is to break off one’s relationship with God, and it would be impossible to win God’s praise. As a believer in God, the more one prays, that is, the more one is moved by God, the more one will be filled with resolution and the better able one will be to receive new enlightenment from God. As a result, this kind of person can very quickly be made perfect by the Holy Spirit.
What effect is prayer meant to achieve?
People may be able to carry out the practice of prayer and to understand the significance of prayer, but for prayer to be effective is no simple matter. Prayer is not a case of just going through the motions, following procedure, or reciting the words of God. That is to say, praying is not parroting certain words and it is not imitating others. In prayer, one must reach the state where one’s heart can be given to God, laying open one’s heart so that it may be moved by God. If prayer is to be effective, then it must be based on the reading of God’s words. Only by praying from within God’s words can one receive greater enlightenment and illumination. The manifestations of a true prayer are: Having a heart that yearns for all that God asks, and moreover desires to accomplish what He demands; detesting that which God detests and then, building on this foundation, gaining some understanding of it, and having some knowledge and clarity regarding the truths God expounds. Where there is resolution, faith, knowledge, and a path of practice following prayer, only then can it be called true prayer, and only this type of prayer can be effective. Yet prayer must be built upon the enjoyment of God’s words, it must be established on the foundation of communing with God in His words, and the heart must be able to seek God and become quiet before Him. Prayer of this kind has already entered the stage of true communion with God.
The most basic knowledge about prayer:
1. Do not blindly say whatever comes to mind. There must be a burden on your heart, that is, you must have an objective when you pray.
2. Prayer must contain the words of God; it must be founded upon the words of God.
3. When praying, do not rehash old issues or bring up things that are outdated. Train yourself to speak the current words of the Holy Spirit; only then will you be able to make a connection with God.
4. Group prayer must revolve around a center, which is, necessarily, the present work of the Holy Spirit.
5. All people have to learn how to pray for something. You must find within God’s words those parts concerning that for which you are to pray, and moreover take on the burden and regularly pray for this. This is also a way of showing consideration for the will of God.
The individual’s life of prayer is based upon an understanding of the significance of prayer and of a basic knowledge of prayer. In daily life, pray frequently for your own shortcomings, pray to effect change in your disposition in life, and pray on the basis of your knowledge of God’s words. Each person should establish their own life of prayer, they should pray for the sake of knowing God’s words, and they should pray to seek knowledge of God’s work. Lay bare your personal circumstances before God and be real without fussing over the way you pray, and the key issue is to attain true understanding, and to gain real experience of God’s words. A person who pursues entry into the spiritual life must be able to pray in many different ways. Silent prayer, ruminating upon the words of God, coming to know the work of God—these are all examples of the purposeful work of spiritual fellowship for the sake of achieving entry into proper spiritual life, which ever improves one’s states before God and pushes one to make ever greater progress in life. In short, all that you do, whether it be eating and drinking the words of God, or praying silently, or proclaiming loudly, is in order to enable you to clearly see God’s words, His work, and that which He wishes to achieve in you. More importantly, all that you do is done in order to reach the standards that God requires and to raise your life to new heights. The minimum that God requires of man is that man be able to open his heart to Him. If man gives his true heart to God and speaks what is truly in his heart, then God is willing to work in him. What God desires is not the twisted heart of man, but a pure and honest heart. If man does not speak from his heart to God, then God will not move his heart or work in him. Therefore, the crux of prayer is to speak to God from your heart, telling Him your shortcomings or rebellious disposition, laying yourself completely open before Him; only then will God be interested in your prayers, or else He will hide His face from you. The minimum criterion for prayer is that you must be able to keep your heart quiet before God, and it must not depart from God. It may be that, during this phase, you do not gain a newer or higher insight, but you must then use prayer to maintain the status quo—you must not regress. This is the very least that you must achieve. If you cannot accomplish even this, then it proves that your spiritual life is not on the right track. As a result, you will be unable to hold on to the vision you first had, you will lose faith in God, and your resolution will subsequently dissipate. One sign of whether or not you have entered into spiritual life is to see if your prayers are on the right track. All people must enter into this reality; they must all do the work of consciously training themselves in prayer, not passively waiting, but consciously seeking to be moved by the Holy Spirit. Only then will they be people who truly seek God.
When you begin to pray, do not overreach yourself and hope to achieve everything in one fell swoop. You cannot make extravagant demands, expecting that as soon as you open your mouth you will be moved by the Holy Spirit, or that you will receive enlightenment and illumination, or that God will shower grace on you. That will not happen; God does not perform supernatural things. God grants the prayers of people in His own time, and sometimes He tests your faith to see whether you are loyal before Him. When you pray you must have faith, perseverance, and resolution. Most people, when just beginning to train, lose heart because they fail to be moved by the Holy Spirit. This will not do! You must persevere; you must focus on feeling the moving of the Holy Spirit and on seeking and exploring. Sometimes, the path of your practice is not right, and sometimes, your personal motives and notions cannot hold fast before God, and so God’s Spirit fails to move you. At other times, God looks at whether or not you are loyal. In short, in training, you should pay a higher price. If you discover you are veering off on the path of your practice, you can change the way you pray. As long as you seek with a sincere heart and long to receive, then the Holy Spirit will surely take you into this reality. Sometimes you pray with a sincere heart but do not feel as if you have been particularly moved. At times like these you must rely on faith, trusting that God watches over your prayers; you must have perseverance in your prayers.
Be an honest person; pray to God to rid you of the deception in your heart. Purify yourself through prayer at all times, be moved by the Spirit of God through prayer, and your disposition will gradually change. The true spiritual life is a life of prayer—it is a life that is moved by the Holy Spirit. The process of being moved by the Holy Spirit is the process of changing man’s disposition. A life that is not moved by the Holy Spirit is not a spiritual life, but a life of religious ritual only. Only those who are often moved by the Holy Spirit, and enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, have entered into spiritual life. Man’s disposition constantly changes as he prays. The more the Spirit of God moves him, the more proactive and obedient he becomes. So, too, will his heart gradually be purified, and his disposition gradually change. Such is the effect of true prayer.
Excerpted from The Word Appears in the Flesh
14. Even though when people kneel down to pray, they are speaking to God in an intangible realm, you must understand clearly that their prayers are also a sort of conduit through which the Holy Spirit works. When people pray and seek while in the right state, the Holy Spirit will also be working simultaneously. This is a sort of harmonious cooperation between God and humanity from two different perspectives; in other words, it is God helping people deal with certain issues. This is a type of cooperation from humans when they come before God; it is also a type of method by which God saves and cleanses people. Moreover, it is the path for people’s proper entry into life, and it is not a kind of ceremony. Prayer is not merely to spur on people’s enthusiasm; if it were only that, then it would be enough to simply go through the motions and yell out some slogans, and there would be no need to ask for anything, no need for worship or piety. The significance of prayer is deeply profound! If you pray often, and if you know how to pray—frequently praying both submissively and reasonably—then your internal state will be especially proper. If you often voice those slogans while praying, without having any burden whatsoever and without considering which of what you say in prayer is reasonable, what words of yours are unreasonable, and what way of speaking is not true worship, and if you are never serious about these matters, then your prayers will not be successful, and you will always have an abnormal internal state; you will never get very deeply into the lessons of what normal reason is, what true submission is, what true worship is, and where to stand in prayer. These are all subtle matters.
Excerpted from “The Significance and Practice of Prayer” in Records of Christ’s Talks
15. Your prayers lack reason far too often; you always pray with the following tone: “Oh God! Since You have let me perform this duty, You must cause everything I do to be appropriate so that Your work won’t be interrupted and the interests of God’s family won’t suffer any losses. You must protect me….” Such a prayer is far too unreasonable, is it not? … Look at Jesus’ prayers (although His prayers are not mentioned here to make people assume His place or position): In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “If it be possible….” That is, “If it can be done.” This was said in discussion; He did not say, “I implore You.” With a submissive heart and in a submissive state, He prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will” (Mat 26:39). He still prayed like this the second time, and the third time He prayed, “May Your will be done.” Having grasped the intentions of God the Father, He said, “May Your will be done.” He was able to completely submit without making any personal choices at all. He said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” What did that mean? He prayed that way because He thought of the great suffering of having bled on the cross to His last dying breath—and this touched upon the matter of death—and because He had not yet completely grasped the intentions of God the Father. Given that He was able to pray like that despite the thought of the suffering, He was very submissive indeed. His manner of prayer was normal; He did not propose any conditions in His prayer, nor did He say the cup had to be removed. Rather, His purpose was to seek God’s intentions in a situation that He did not comprehend. The first time He prayed, He did not understand, and He said, “If it be possible … but as You will.” He had prayed to God in a state of submissiveness. The second time, He prayed in the same manner. In total, He prayed three times (of course, these three prayers did not happen over a mere three days), and in His final prayer, He completely came to understand God’s intentions, after which He no longer implored for anything. In His first two prayers, He sought in a state of submissiveness. However, people simply do not pray like that. In their prayers, people say, “God, I beg You to do this and that, and I beg You to guide me in this and that, and I beg You to make ready conditions for me….” Perhaps He won’t prepare suitable conditions for you and will let you suffer hardships. If people always said, “God, I ask You to make preparations for me and give me strength.” Praying like that is so unreasonable! You must be reasonable when you pray, and you must do so under the premise that you are submitting. Do not delimit your prayers. Before you even begin to pray, you are already delimiting thusly: I must implore God and get Him to do such and such. This way of praying is so unreasonable.
Excerpted from “The Significance and Practice of Prayer” in Records of Christ’s Talks
16. Sometimes, when you are enjoying the words of God, your spirit is touched, and you feel that you can’t help but love God, that there is great strength within you, and that there is nothing that you can’t put aside. If you feel like this, then you have been touched by the Spirit of God, and your heart has wholly turned to God, and you will pray to God and say: “O God! We truly have been predestined and chosen by You. Your glory gives me pride, and it feels glorious for me to be one of Your people. I will expend anything and give anything to do Your will, and will devote all my years, and an entire lifetime of efforts, to You.” When you pray like this, there will be unending love and true obedience toward God in your heart. Have you ever had such an experience as this? If people are often touched by the Spirit of God, then they are especially willing to devote themselves to God in their prayers: “O God! I wish to behold Your day of glory, and I wish to live for You—nothing is more worthy or meaningful than to live for You, and I have not the slightest desire to live for Satan and the flesh. You raise me up by enabling me to live for You today.” When you have prayed in this way, you will feel that you can’t help but give your heart to God, that you must gain God, and that you would hate to die without having gained God while you are alive. Having spoken such a prayer, there will be an inexhaustible strength within you, and you will not know from where it comes; in your heart there will be limitless power, and you will have a sense that God is so lovely, and that He is worth loving. This is when you will have been touched by God. All those who have had such an experience have been touched by God. For those who are often touched by God, changes occur in their lives, they are able to make their resolution and are willing to completely gain God, the love for God in their hearts is stronger, their hearts have completely turned to God, they hold no regard for family, the world, entanglements, or their future, and they are willing to devote a lifetime of efforts to God. All those who have been touched by the Spirit of God are people who pursue the truth, and who have hope of being made perfect by God.
Excerpted from “Know the Newest Work of God and Follow the Footsteps of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
17. This man Peter was of excellent caliber, but his circumstances were different from those of Paul. His parents persecuted Me, they belonged to demons possessed by Satan, and for this reason one cannot say that they transmitted the way to Peter. Peter was agile of wit, endowed with native intelligence, doted on from boyhood by his parents; after growing up, however, he became their enemy, for he always sought to know Me, and this led him to turn his back on his parents. This was because, first of all, he believed that the heavens and earth and all things are in the hands of the Almighty, and that all positive things originate from God and come directly from Him, without passing through any processing by Satan. With the counterexample of his parents to serve as a foil, this enabled him all the more readily to recognize My love and mercy, thereby inflaming in him an even greater passion to seek after Me. He paid close attention not only to eating and drinking My words, but even more to grasping My intentions, and was constantly prudent and cautious in his thoughts, so that he was always keenly astute in his spirit, and hence was able to please Me in everything he did. In ordinary life, he paid close attention to integrating the lessons of those who had failed in the past so as to spur himself on to greater endeavor, deeply afraid that he might fall into the nets of failure. He also paid close attention to assimilating the faith and love of all those who through the ages had loved God. In this way he not only in negative aspects, but much more importantly, in positive aspects sped up the progress of his growth, until he became in My presence the one human being who knew Me best. For this reason, it is not difficult to imagine how he could place all that he had in My hands, no longer being his own master even in eating, dressing, sleeping, or where he stayed, but made satisfying Me in all things the foundation on which he enjoyed My bounty. So many times did I put him under trial, which of course left him half dead, but even in the midst of these hundreds of trials, he never once lost faith in Me or became disillusioned with Me. Even when I said I had already thrown him aside, he did not grow faint of heart or fall into despair, but continued on as before carrying out his principles so as to love Me in a practical way. I told him that, even though he loved Me, I did not commend him but would cast him into Satan’s hands in the end. In the midst of these trials, which did not reach unto his flesh but were trials by means of words, he still prayed to Me: “Oh, God! Among the heavens and earth and the myriad things, is there any man, any creature, or any thing that is not in the hands of You, the Almighty? When You wish to show me mercy, my heart rejoices greatly on account of Your mercy; when You wish to execute judgment on me, unworthy though I may be, I feel all the more the profound mystery of Your deeds, because You are filled with authority and wisdom. Though my flesh may suffer, I am comforted in my spirit. How could I not extol Your wisdom and Your deeds? Even if I die after coming to know You, I would be ever ready and willing. Oh, Almighty One! Surely it is not that You truly do not wish to let me see You? Surely it is not that I am truly unworthy of receiving Your judgment? Can it possibly be that there is something in me that You do not wish to see?” In the midst of these kinds of trials, even though Peter was not able to grasp My intentions accurately, it is evident that he considered it a matter of pride and personal glory to be used by Me (be it only to receive My judgment so that humanity might see My majesty and wrath), and was anything but dejected on account of being put under trial. Because of his loyalty in My presence, and because of My blessings upon him, he has become an exemplar and a model for mankind for thousands of years. Is this not precisely the example that you should follow?
Excerpted from “Chapter 6” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh
18. When he was being chastised by God, Peter prayed, “O God! My flesh is disobedient, and You chastise me and judge me. I rejoice in Your chastisement and judgment, and even if You do not want me, in Your judgment I behold Your holy and righteous disposition. When You judge me, so that others may behold Your righteous disposition in Your judgment, I feel content. I only wish that Your disposition may be shown forth so that Your righteous disposition may be seen by all creatures, and that I can love You more purely through Your judgment and attain the likeness of one who is righteous. This judgment of Yours is good, for such is Your gracious will. I know that there is still much in me that is rebellious, and that I am still not fit to come before You. I wish for You to judge me even more, whether through a hostile environment or great tribulations; no matter what You do, to me it is precious. Your love is so profound, and I am willing to lay myself at Your mercy without the slightest complaint.” This is Peter’s knowledge after he experienced the work of God, and is also a testimony to his love of God.
Excerpted from “The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh