5. How does one enter true prayer?
Relevant Words of God:
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 try to wheedle God with 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 normal relationship with God and truly become someone who loves God.
Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
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.
Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
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, you must not rehash outdated issues. Your prayers should relate to the current words of God, and when you pray, tell God your innermost thoughts.
4. Group prayer must revolve around a center, which is, necessarily, the present work of the Holy Spirit.
5. All people have to learn intercessory prayer. 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 normal 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.
Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
And how do you seek being touched by the Holy Spirit? The crucial thing is to live in God’s present words, and to pray upon the foundation of God’s requirements. Having prayed in this way, the Holy Spirit is sure to touch you. If you do not seek with a basis in the foundation of the words spoken by God today, then this is fruitless. You should pray, and say: “O God! I oppose You, and I owe You so much; I am so disobedient, and never able to satisfy You. O God, I wish for You to save me, I wish to give service to You to the very end, I wish to die for You. You judge me and chastise me, and I have no complaints; I oppose You and I deserve to die, so that all people may behold Your righteous disposition in my death.” When you pray from within your heart in this way, God will hear you, and will guide you; if you do not pray upon the foundation of the words of the Holy Spirit today, then there is no possibility of the Holy Spirit touching you. If you pray according to God’s will, and according to that which God wishes to do today, you will say: “O God! I wish to accept Your commissions and be faithful to Your commissions, and I am willing to devote my entire life to Your glory, so that all that I do can reach the standards of the people of God. May my heart be touched by You. I wish for Your Spirit to ever enlighten me, to make all I do bring shame upon Satan, that I am ultimately gained by You.” If you pray in this way, in a way that is centered around the will of God, then the Holy Spirit will inevitably work in you. It matters not how many are the words of your prayers—what is key is whether or not you grasp the will of God. You may all have had the following experience: Sometimes, whilst praying in an assembly, the dynamics of the work of the Holy Spirit reach their peak, causing everyone’s strength to rise up. Some people cry bitterly and weep tears while praying, overcome with remorse before God, and some people show their resolve, and make vows. Such is the effect to be achieved by the work of the Holy Spirit. Today, it is crucial that all people completely pour their hearts into the words of God. Do not focus on the words that were spoken before; if you still hold on to what came before, then the Holy Spirit will not work within you. Do you see how important this is?
Excerpted from “Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
I have discovered a problem that all people share: When something happens to them, they come before God to pray, but, to them, prayer is one thing, and the matter at hand is another. They believe they should not speak of what is happening to them in prayer. You seldom pray genuinely, and there are some who do not even know how. Actually, to pray is mainly to say what is in your heart, as if you were speaking as you normally do. However, there are people who forget their place as soon as they begin to pray; they insist that God grant them something, heedless of whether it accords with His will, and, as a result, their prayers wither in the praying. When you pray, whatever it is you are asking for in your heart, whatever it is you long for; or, perhaps, there is an issue you wish to address, but into which you have no insight, and you are asking that God give you wisdom or strength, or that He enlighten you—whatever your request, you must be sensible in phrasing it. If you are not, and kneel down and say, “God, give me strength; let me see my nature; I beg You to work; I beg You for this and that; I beg You to make me such-and-such….” That “beg” of yours has a coercive quality; it is an attempt to put pressure on God, to compel Him to do what you want—whose terms you have unilaterally decided in advance, no less. As the Holy Spirit sees it, what effect could such a prayer have, when you have already set the terms and decided what you want to do? One should pray with a seeking, submissive heart. When something has befallen you, for instance, and you are not sure how to handle it, you might say, “God! I do not know what to do about this. I wish to satisfy You in this matter, and to seek Your will. May Your will be done. I wish only to do as You will, not as I will. You know that all human will is contrary to Yours, and resists You, and does not accord with the truth. I ask that You enlighten me, give me guidance in this matter, and let me not offend You….” That is the appropriate tone for a prayer. If you merely say, “God, I ask that You help me, guide me, furnish me with the right environment and the right people, and let me do my work well,” then, after your prayer, you will still not have grasped God’s will, as you will have been asking God to act according to your own will.
You must now ascertain whether the words you use in prayer are sensible. If your prayers are not sensible, no matter if this is due to your foolishness or by design, the Holy Spirit will not work on you. Therefore, when you pray, you must speak sensibly, in a suitable tone. Say this: “God! You know of my weakness and my rebelliousness. I ask only that You give me strength and help me endure my circumstances, but only according to Your will. This is all I ask. I don’t know what Your will is, but may Your will be done all the same. Even if I were made to do service, or to be a foil, I would do so willingly. I ask that You give me strength and wisdom, and let me satisfy You in this matter. I wish only to submit to Your arrangements….” After such a prayer, your heart will feel at ease. If all you do is constantly beg, then, no matter how much you say, it will all be hollow words; God will not work in response to your plea, because you will have decided what you want in advance. When you kneel in prayer, say this: “God! You know of man’s weakness, and You know man’s states. I ask that You enlighten me in this matter. Let me understand Your will. I wish only to submit to all You arrange; my heart is willing to obey You….” Pray thus, and the Holy Spirit will move you. If the way you pray is not correct, your prayer will be stale, and the Holy Spirit will not move you. Do not prattle on, speaking for yourself—to do so is nothing but careless and perfunctory. Would the Holy Spirit work if you are careless and perfunctory? When one comes before God, they must be right and proper, with a pious attitude, like the priests in the Age of Law, who all knelt down when they offered a sacrifice. It is not a simple thing to pray. How could it be viable for a person to come before God baring their fangs and brandishing their claws, or to pray supine, nestled in their quilt, believing that God can hear them? That is not piety! My purpose in this talk is not to demand that people adhere to some specific rule; the least one can do is incline their heart toward God, and come before Him with a pious attitude.
Excerpted from “The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
How can people maintain a relationship with God? And what should they rely on to do this? They should rely on supplicating God, praying to God, and communicating with God in their hearts. With a relationship such as this, people live always before God, and such people are very peaceful. Some people spend their whole time in external actions, busying themselves with external tasks. After one or two days without the spiritual life, they feel nothing; after three or five days, or one or two months, they still feel nothing; they have not prayed, made supplication, or held spiritual communion. Supplication is when something happens to you, and you ask God to help you, guide you, provide for you, enlighten you, and allow you to understand His will and know what to do in line with the truth. The scope of prayer is wider: Sometimes you speak the words in your heart, talking to God of your difficulties or negativity and weakness; so, too, do you pray to God when you are rebellious, or else you speak to Him of the things that happen to you each day, whether they are clear to you or not. This is praying. The scope of prayer is basically talking and opening up to God. Sometimes it is done at regular times, sometimes not; you can pray whenever and wherever you wish. Spiritual communion is not overly formal. Sometimes it is because you have a problem, sometimes not. Sometimes it involves words, sometimes not. When you have a problem, you talk of it with God and pray; when you do not have a problem, you think of how God loves people, how He is concerned about people, how He rebukes people. You may commune with God at any time or place. This is what spiritual communion is. Sometimes, when you are out and about and you think of something that upsets you, you do not have to get down on your knees or close your eyes. You just have to say to God in your heart: “O God, please guide me in this. I am weak, I cannot overcome it.” Your heart is moved; you speak but a few simple words, and God knows. Sometimes you miss home and say, “O God! I really miss home….” You do not say who specifically you miss. You just feel down, and speak of this to God. Problems can only be solved when you pray to God and say what is in your heart. Can talking to other people solve problems? It is okay if you encounter someone who understands the truth, but if they do not—if you encounter someone negative and weak—you could have an effect on them. If you speak to God, God will comfort you, and move you. If you are able to read God’s words quietly before God, then you will be able to understand the truth and solve the problem. God’s words will allow you to find a way through, to get past this little hurdle. The hurdle will not trip you up, it will not restrain you, nor will it affect your performance of your duty. There are times when you suddenly feel a little down or uneasy inside. At such times, do not hesitate to pray to God. It may be that you make no supplication to God, there may be nothing you wish God to do or enlighten you with—you just speak to God and open up to Him at any time, wherever you are. What must you feel at all times? It is, “God is always with me, He has never left me, I can feel it. No matter where I am or what I’m doing—I could be taking a rest, or be in a gathering, or be performing my duty—in my heart, I know that my hand is led by God, that He has never left me.” Sometimes, recalling how you have passed each day over the past few years, you feel that your stature has grown, that you have been guided by God, that God’s love has protected you throughout. Thinking these things, you pray in your heart, offering thanks to God: “O God, I thank You! I am so weak and frail, so profoundly corrupt. Without You to guide me like this, I would not have made it to today relying on myself.” Is this not spiritual communion? If people can often commune in this way, will they not have much to say to God? They would not go many days without anything to say to God. When you have nothing to say to God, God is absent from your heart. If God is in your heart, and you have faith in God, then you will be able to speak of everything in your heart to Him, including those things you would speak of to your confidants. In fact, God is your closest confidant. If you treat God as your closest confidant, as your family whom you depend on most, rely on most, trust most, confide in most, whom you are closest to, then it will be impossible for you to have nothing to say to God. If you always have something to say to God, will you not always live before God? If you can always live before God, then at every moment, you will sense how God guides you, how He cares for and protects you, how He brings you peace and joy, how He blesses you, how He enlightens you, and how He rebukes you, disciplines you, chastens you, and judges and chastises you; all this will be clear and evident to you in your heart. You will not just muddle through each day, knowing nothing, only saying you believe in God, performing your duty and attending gatherings only for appearance’s sake, reading God’s words and praying on a daily basis, simply going through the motions—yours will not simply be this kind of external religious ceremony. Instead, in your heart, you will look to God and pray to God at every moment, you will commune with God at all times, and you will be able to submit to God, and live before God.
Excerpted from “If You Cannot Always Live Before God, You Are a Nonbeliever” in Records of Christ’s Talks