1. What the significance of prayer is

Relevant Words of God:

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 normal 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.

—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Practice of Prayer

Prayer is not a type of ritual; it is a true communion between a person and God, and it carries a profound significance. From people’s prayers, one can see that they are directly serving God. If you look at prayer as a ritual, then you are guaranteed not to 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. How, then, can you have the Holy Spirit working on you? As a result, 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. What makes people feel they have the right not to pray? Have they stopped praying because God is incarnate? That is no excuse; sometimes even I pray! When Jesus was in the flesh, He, too, prayed when it came to critical matters. He prayed in the mountains, aboard boats, and in gardens; He also led His disciples to pray. If you can frequently come before God and pray to Him, this proves that you treat God as God. If you often neglect to pray, and tend to do things on your own, doing this and that behind His back, then you are not serving God; you are merely engaged in 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.

—“The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

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.

—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Practice of Prayer

Though to kneel down to pray is to talk with God from the heart, know this: People’s prayers are also conduits for the Holy Spirit’s work. While a person in a correct state prays and seeks, the Holy Spirit, too, is at work. This is a good coordination between God and man from two different perspectives, or else it can be said that God helps man resolve some of their issues, and this is a kind of cooperation when people come before God. It is also one of the ways God saves and cleanses people, and, beyond that, it is the path of normal life entry. It is not a ritual. Prayer is not merely a thing that invigorates people; if it were, it would be enough to go through the motions and shout a few slogans, and there would be no need to implore God for anything, or for worship, or for piety. Prayer is a thing of deep significance! If you know how to pray and do so often, with frequent prayers that are submissive to God and sensible, then your inner state will more often than not be quite normal. If, on the other hand, your prayers consist often of only a few slogans, and you take no burden on yourself, and do not ponder what would or would not be sensible to say in prayer, nor what would not be truly worshipful to say, and never take these matters seriously, then you will never find success in your praying, and your inner state will always be abnormal. You will never get deeper into the lesson of, nor deepen your entry into, what normal sense, true submission, true worship, and the perspective with which one should pray are. These are all subtle things.

—“The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

I have said before that all people are engaged in their own management and handle their own affairs. People are still like this now; they work for a while and then stop praying, God quite absent from their hearts. They think to themselves, “I just act according to the work arrangements. Anyway, it’s not as if I’ve made a mistake or caused a disturbance….” You do not pray, and less still do you give thanks. What a terrible state to be in! Most of the time you are aware that this state is wrong, but you lack the correct method to rectify it; as a result, you cannot remedy your state, and though you may understand the truth, you are unable to put it into practice. You are aware that there is an abnormal state within you (such as arrogance, corruption, or rebelliousness), yet you cannot manage to rectify it and you cannot overcome it. People always handle their own affairs and do not concern themselves with the work of the Holy Spirit or how He operates, caring only about doing their own thing. As a result of this, the Holy Spirit will forsake you—and when He does, you will feel dark and withered inside, and quite without nourishment or enjoyment. There are many people who go six months without praying, and though they do their work, they feel parched inside. At times they think, “What am I doing? When will this be over?” Yes, even such thoughts as this occur to them. It is dangerous indeed for a person to go a long time without praying! Prayer is so crucial! If someone’s church life has never been prayerful, their gatherings will be barren and without enjoyment. When you are together, therefore, you must always pray and offer up praise, and then the Holy Spirit will perform extraordinary work. The power the Holy Spirit gives man is inexhaustible; at no time can people exhaust it or use it up. No matter how much a person is able to speak or preach by relying on himself, if the Holy Spirit does not work toward that end, what results can they achieve? There are many times when, in three or five sessions of prayer, a person has only a sentence or two to say, “Oh God, I thank You, I praise You,” and having said that, nothing more comes to them—they no longer have anything to say. What is the measure of such belief? It is dangerous! When a person, in their belief in God, cannot even say words that thank Him, praise Him, or give glory unto Him, and dares not even say the words “Please God,” and is too embarrassed to do so, how degraded that person is! You may cry out to God and acknowledge Him in your heart, but if you do not come before God, and your heart strays far from Him, then the Holy Spirit will not work. When you rise each morning, be sure to pray. When you do, the prospects for that day will be especially fine and fulfilling, and you will feel the Holy Spirit by your side at all times, protecting you.

—“The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

I find that many people now are particularly lacking in the ability to restrain themselves. Why is this? It is because they never pray. When people do not pray, they become dissolute, and when people are dissolute, they lose their piety and their humility. They speak only of humanity, integrity, and of knowing their own corrupt nature. As for how the Holy Spirit acts, exactly, how He moves people, and how people should seek God’s will in their daily lives—these things all disappear. People believe in their hearts only that there is truly a God, and all that is left of their faith is an acknowledgment of God; the affairs of the life of the spirit are gone. Their faith extends only to the material world and they deny matters of the spirit, and so, as they walk on their own, they go astray and fall down. When a person who does not pray practices the truth, they can only hold to a principle within a certain scope—all mere rules. Though you may adhere to the arrangements from the Above in your actions and do not offend God, all you are doing is adhering to rules. People’s spirits are now so numb and dull. There are many intricate things in man’s relationship with God, such as being moved and enlightened by the Spirit. Man cannot feel these things—he is too numb! Man does not read God’s words, he is not in touch with the affairs of the life of the spirit, and he cannot wrest control of his own state. To wrest control of one’s state of the life of the spirit, it will not do not to pray, nor will it do not to live the church life. Do you feel so? To believe in God, one must pray; without prayer, there is no likeness of belief in God. I say you do not have to adhere to rules—you may pray anywhere and at any time—and so there are some who seldom pray. They do not pray in the morning when they awaken, but merely read a few passages of God’s words and listen to hymns. During the day, they busy themselves with external affairs, and they do not pray before they lie down to sleep at night, either. Do you not feel like this? If you merely read God’s words and do not pray, are you not then like an unbeliever reading His words, with the words not sinking in? Without prayer, the heart is not engaged, and there are no subtle feelings or stirrings in one’s spirit. One is numb and dull; they speak superficially of things related to dispositional change, and they seem to believe in God, yet the feeling in the depths of their spirit is not so strong. They are as ones who do not believe in God. However they try to pray, they are unable to get the words out. This is very dangerous—it means you are too far from God, and He is no longer in your heart. There is, in fact, no conflict between handling external affairs and work and coming back into the spirit to pray. Not only is there no conflict, but coming back into the spirit to pray is actually more beneficial to one’s work.

—“The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

What is the first thing people should do each time they encounter an issue? They should pray; prayer comes first. Prayer demonstrates that you are pious, that you have begun to have a God-fearing heart, that you know to seek God, that you have given Him a place in your heart, that you are a pious Christian. Many older believers kneel down to pray at the same time each day, sometimes for so long they cannot get back up again. Let us not speak of whether this is ritual, or whether or not they can gain anything from it; let us only say that these aged brothers and sisters are especially pious, much better and more diligent than you youngsters. The first thing to do upon encountering an issue is pray. Prayer is not just insincerely jawing on; that would not solve any problems. You might pray eight or ten times and gain nothing, but do not be discouraged—you must still pray. When something happens to you, first pray, first tell God, let God take over, let God help you, let God lead you, and show you the way. This proves that you have put God first, that He is in your heart. If, when you encounter an issue, the first thing you do is to feel resistant, get angry, and fly into a rage—if, before anything else, you become negative—then this is a manifestation of God not being in your heart. In real life, you must pray whenever anything happens to you. At the very first instance, you must kneel and pray—this is crucial. Prayer demonstrates your attitude toward God in His presence. You would not do it if God were not in your heart. Some people say, “I pray but still God does not enlighten me!” You must not say that. First look at whether your motivations for prayer are right; if you truly seek the truth and often pray to God, then He may well enlighten you in some matter so that you may understand—in a word, God will make you understand. Without the enlightenment of God, you could not understand on your own: You lack the acumen, you do not have the brain for it, and this is unattainable by human intellect. When you do understand, is that understanding born of your own mind? If you are not enlightened by the Holy Spirit, then no one you ask will know what the meaning is of the Spirit’s work or what God means; only when God Himself tells you the meaning will you know. And so, the first thing to do when something happens to you is to pray. Prayer requires probing with a seeking attitude, and expressing your thoughts, opinions, and attitudes—this is what it should involve. Simply going through the motions will have no effect, so do not blame the Holy Spirit for not enlightening you. I have found that in some people’s faith in God, they go on believing, but God is only on their lips. God is not in their hearts, they deny the work of the Spirit, and they deny prayer as well; they merely read the words of God, and nothing more. Can this be called faith in God? They keep on and on believing until God disappears altogether from their faith. In particular, there are those who often handle general affairs, and feel they are so busy and get nothing for all their efforts. This is a case of people not walking the right path in their faith in God. Is it not hard work to take the right way? They fail to take this way even after understanding much doctrine, and are prone to take the downhill path. So when something happens to you, you must spend more time praying and seeking—this is the very least you should do. Learning how to seek the will of God and the intentions of the Holy Spirit is the key. If people who believe in God are incapable of experiencing and practicing thus, then they will gain nothing, and their faith will count for nothing.

—“See All Things Through the Eyes of Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

Previous: 4. How one should practice their faith in order to be freed from the forces of Satan and be saved

Next: 2. What true prayer is and what it can achieve

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