Concerning the Practice of Prayer
You pay no attention to prayer in your daily life. People have always overlooked prayer. In their prayers before they were simply going through the motions and playing around, and no one has ever fully given their heart before God and truly prayed to God. People only pray to God when something happens to them. Throughout all this time, have you ever truly prayed to God? Have you ever wept tears of pain before God? Have you ever come to know yourself before God? Have you ever had a heart-to-heart prayer with God? Praying is practiced gradually: If you don’t ordinarily pray at home, then you will have no way of praying in church, and if you don’t normally pray during small assemblies, then you will be incapable of praying during large assemblies. If you do not ordinarily draw near to God or reflect upon the words of God, then you will have nothing to say when it is time to pray—and even if you do pray, your lips will just be moving, you won’t be truly praying. What does it mean to truly pray? It means speaking the words within your heart to God, and communing with God having grasped His will and based upon His words; it means feeling particularly close to God, feeling that He is in front of you, and that you have something to say to Him; and it means being especially radiant within your heart, and feeling that God is especially lovely. You will feel especially inspired, and after hearing your words your brothers and sisters will feel gratified, they will feel that the words you speak are the words within their hearts, the words they wish to say, and that what you say represents what they want to say. This is what it means to truly pray. After you have truly prayed, in your heart you will feel at peace, and gratified; the strength to love God will rise up, and you will feel that nothing in your entire life is more worthy or significant than loving God—and all this will prove that your prayers have been effective. Have you ever prayed in such a way? And what about the content of prayers? You should pray, step-by-step, in accordance with your true state and that which is to be done by the Holy Spirit, and you should commune with God in keeping with God’s will and His requirements of man. When you begin practicing your prayers, 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 thus: “O God! Only today do I realize that I used to disobey You. I am truly corrupt and despicable. Before, I was wasting my time; starting from today I will live for You, I will live out a life of meaning, and satisfy Your will. I would that Your Spirit always works within me, and always illuminates and enlightens me, so that I can bear strong and resounding testimony before You, allowing Satan to see Your glory, Your testimony, and the proof of Your triumph within 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 by often praying in this way, the Holy Spirit will inevitably work within you. If you always call out to God in this way and make your resolution before God, the day will come when your resolution can be accepted before God, when your heart and entire being will be received by God, and you will ultimately be made perfect by God. Prayer is of the utmost importance for you. When you pray, you receive the work of the Holy Spirit, your heart is thus touched by God, and the strength of the love for God within you comes 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 within you. If, having prayed, you have spoken all the words within your heart and the Spirit of God has not stirred, if you do not feel inspired inside, then this shows that your heart is not earnest, that your words are not true, and still impure. If, having prayed, you are gratified, then your prayers have been accepted by God and the Spirit of God has worked within you. As someone who serves before God, you cannot be without prayers. If you truly see fellowship with God as something that is meaningful and valuable, could you forsake prayer? No one can be without communion with God. Without prayer, you live in the flesh, you live in the bondage of Satan; without true prayer, you live under the influence of darkness. I hope that the brothers and sisters are able to truly pray each and every day. This is not adherence to doctrine, however, but an effect that must be achieved. Are you willing to forego a little sleep and gratification, saying morning prayers at dawn and then enjoying the words of God? If you pray and eat and drink the words of God, in this way, with a pure heart, then you will be more accepted by God. If you do every day, practicing giving your heart to God each day and communing with God, then your knowledge of God is sure to increase, and you will be better able to grasp God’s will. You should say: “O God! I wish to fulfill my duty. In order that You may be glorified in us, and may enjoy the testimony in us, this group of people, I can but devote my entire being to You. I beg You to work within us, so that I can truly love and satisfy You, and make You the objective that I pursue.” When you are possessed of this burden, God will surely make you perfect; you should not only pray for the sake of yourself, but also for the sake of carrying out the will of God, and for the sake of loving Him. Such is the truest kind of prayer. Do you pray in order to carry out the will of God? Before, you did not know how to pray, and overlooked prayer; today, you must do your best to train yourself to pray. If you are unable to summon the strength within you to love God, then how can you pray? You should say: “O God! My heart is incapable of truly loving You, I wish to love You but I lack the strength. What should I do? I wish for You to open the eyes of my spirit, I wish for Your Spirit to touch my heart, so that before You I am divested of all passive states, and unconstrained by any person, matter, or thing; my heart I completely lay bare before You, such that my entire being is devoted before You, and You may test me however You wish. Now, I give no thought to my prospects, nor am I bound by death. Using my heart that loves You, I wish to seek the way of life. All things are in Your hands, my fate is in Your hands, and, moreover, my life is controlled by Your hands. Now, I pursue the love of You, and regardless of whether You let me love You, regardless of how Satan interferes, I am determined to love You.” When you encounter such things, you pray in this way. If you do so every day, the strength to love God will gradually rise up. How does one enter into true prayer? Whilst praying, your heart must be at peace before God, and it must be sincere. You are truly communing and praying with God; you must not deceive God using nice-sounding words. Prayer is centered around that which God wishes to complete today. Ask God to bring you greater enlightenment and illumination, and bring your actual state and troubles before God to pray, and make resolution before God. Prayer is not the following of procedure, but the seeking of God using your true heart. Ask that God protect your heart, making it able to often be at peace before God, making you able to know yourself, and despise yourself, and forsake yourself in the environment that God has set for you, thus allowing you to have a normal relationship with God and making you someone who truly 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 touched by God’s Spirit. It can be said that those who are without prayer are dead ones without spirit, proof that they lack the faculties to be touched by God. Without prayer, they are unable to attain a normal spiritual life, much less are they able to follow the work of the Holy Spirit; without prayer, they sever their relationship with God, and are incapable of receiving God’s approval. Being someone who believes in God, the more you pray, the more you are touched by God. Such people have greater resolution and are more able to receive the latest enlightenment from God; as a result, only people like this can be made perfect as soon as possible by the Holy Spirit. 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 and your heart is able to seek God and be at peace before God. Such prayer has already reached the point of true communion with God. Basic knowledge about praying: 1. Do not blindly say whatever comes to mind. There must be a burden within your heart, which is to say, you must have an objective when you pray. 2. Your prayers must contain the words of God; they must be based upon the words of God. 3. When praying, you cannot go over old ground; you must not bring up things that are outdated. You should specially train yourself to speak the actual words of the Holy Spirit; only then will you be able to make a connection with God. 4. Group prayer must be centered around a core, which must be the work of the Holy Spirit today. 5. All people must learn how to pray for others. They must find the part in God’s words that they wish to pray for, based upon which they must have a burden, and for which they must often pray. This is one manifestation of care for God’s will. Personal prayer life is based upon understanding the significance of prayer and the basic knowledge of prayer. Man must often pray for his shortcomings in his daily life, and must pray upon the foundation of the knowledge of God’s words in order to achieve changes in his life disposition. Everyone should establish their own prayer life, they should pray for the knowledge based upon God’s words, should pray in order to seek the knowledge of God’s work. Lay your actual circumstances before God, and be pragmatic, and don’t pay attention to method; the key is to attain a true knowledge, and to actually experience God’s words. Anyone who pursues entry into the spiritual life must be able to pray in multiple ways. Silent prayer, pondering the words of God, coming to know the work of God, and so on—this targeted work of communion, is in order to achieve entry into normal spiritual life, making your own situation before God better and better, and causing ever greater progress in your life. In short, all that you do—whether it be eating and drinking the words of God, or praying silently or declaring loudly—is in order to clearly see God’s words, and His work, and that which He wishes to achieve in you. More importantly, it is in order to reach the standards that God requires and take your life to the next level. The lowest standard that God requires of people is that they be able to open their hearts to Him. If man gives his true heart to God and says what is really within his heart to God, then God is willing to work in man; God does not want the twisted heart of man, but his pure and honest heart. If man does not truly speak his heart to God, then God does not touch man’s heart, or work within him. Thus, the most crucial thing about praying is to speak the words of your true heart to God, telling God of your flaws or rebellious disposition and completely opening yourself up to God. Only then will God be interested in your prayers; if not, then God will hide His face from you. The minimum criterion for prayer is that you must be able to keep your heart at peace before God, and it must not depart from God. Perhaps, during this period, you have not gained a newer or higher view, but you must use prayer to keep things as they are—you cannot regress. This is the very least that you must achieve. If you cannot accomplish even this, then it proves that your spiritual life has not entered onto the right track; as a result, you are unable to hold on to your original vision, and bereft of faith in God, and your resolution subsequently disappears. Your entry into the spiritual life is marked by whether or not your prayers have entered onto 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 touched by the Holy Spirit. Only then will they be people who truly seek God. When you begin to pray, be realistic, and mustn’t overreach yourself; you cannot make extravagant demands, hoping that as soon as you open your mouth you will be touched by the Holy Spirit, enlightened and illuminated, and bestowed with much grace. That is impossible—God does not do things that are supernatural. God accomplishes people’s prayers 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. When they begin training themselves to pray, most people don’t feel that they have been touched by the Holy Spirit and so lose heart. This won’t do! You must have persistence, you must focus on feeling the touch of the Holy Spirit, and on seeking and exploring. Sometimes, the path that you act upon is the wrong one; sometimes, your motivations and conceptions are unable to stand firm before God, and so God’s Spirit doesn’t move you; so too are there times when God looks at whether or not you are loyal. In short, you must devote more effort to training yourself. If you discover that the path you act upon is deviant, you can change the way you pray. As long as you truly seek, and long to receive, then the Holy Spirit will surely take you into this reality. Sometimes you pray with a true heart but don’t feel as if you have been particularly touched. At times like these you must rely on your faith, and trust that God looks upon your prayers; you must have perseverance in your prayers. You must be honest, and must pray in order to rid yourself of the craftiness in your heart. As you use prayer to purify yourself whenever needed, and use it to be touched by the Spirit of God, your disposition will gradually change. The true spiritual life is a life of prayer, and it is a life that is touched by the Holy Spirit. The process of being touched by the Holy Spirit is the process of changing your disposition. A life that has not been touched by the Holy Spirit is not a spiritual life, it is still religious ritual; only those who are often touched by the Holy Spirit, and have been enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, are people who have entered into the spiritual life. Man’s disposition constantly changes as he prays, and the more that he is moved by the Spirit of God, the more proactive and obedient he is. So, too, will his heart gradually be purified, after which his disposition will gradually change. Such is the effect of true prayer.