8. The Principles of Praying to God and Worshiping Him
Relevant Words of God:
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. Because most people have little contact with Me, they can only come into the presence of the Spirit and pray. When you pray, it involves whether your words are reasonable, whether your words are about true worship, whether God praises you for the things you ask for, whether your words are about transactions, whether there are human impurities in your words, whether your words, actions and determinations are in accordance with truth; whether you have great reverence, respect and submission toward God, and whether you truly treat God like God. When praying by yourself, the words you use must be earnest and serious; only in this way can you be normal in the presence of Christ. If you are not serious in the presence of the Spirit, when you come into the presence of man (Christ), you will always be in conflict, or you will not have reason in your words, or you will not be honest in your words, or you will always interrupt with your words and actions. After the matter is over, you will always reproach yourself. Why are you always reproaching yourself? Because you ordinarily have no understanding of the truth in your worship of God and in how you treat God. Therefore, when matters come upon you, you get confused and don’t know how to practice, and you will always do things wrong.
Excerpted from “The Significance and Practice of Prayer” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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?
Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You pray when you have matters and difficulties, but do you pray when your conditions are good, or when you feel that you had a successful meeting? So most of you don’t pray! If you held a successful meeting, you should offer a prayer; you should offer a prayer of praise. If someone praises you, you become prideful, feeling like you have the truth, you fall into the wrong condition, and your heart is happy. You do not have a prayer of praise, much less a prayer of thanksgiving. The result of you falling into this condition is that your next meeting will be dull, you won’t have the words to say, and the Holy Spirit will not work. People cannot grasp their own conditions, they do a little work and then enjoy the fruits of their work. In a negative condition, it’s hard to tell how many days they will need to recover. This kind of condition is the most dangerous. You all pray when you have a matter or when you don’t see things clearly; you pray when you have doubts and hesitations about something or your corrupt disposition has been exposed. You only pray when you are in need of something. You must also pray when you have some success in your work. When you achieve some results in your work, you become excited, and once you are excited, you don’t pray; you are always happy and always trapped inside. Some of you at this time receive discipline: When you go out shopping, you hit a snag and something goes wrong for you; the shopkeeper says many harsh words that make you feel uncomfortable and pressured, and you still don’t know in what way you have sinned against God. In fact, most of the time, God uses the external environment to discipline you; for example, He uses things like an unbeliever cursing you, or having your money stolen to make you feel uncomfortable. In the end, you will come to God’s presence to pray and while you pray, some words will come out. You will come to recognize that your condition was not right, for example, you were satisfied and pleased with yourself, then you will feel disgusted by your self-satisfaction. Along with the words in your prayer, the incorrect condition inside of you will turn around. As soon as you pray, the Holy Spirit will work on you; He will give you a type of feeling and make you come out of the incorrect condition. Prayer is not all about seeking. It is not that you pray when you need God and don’t pray when you don’t need God. Have you discovered that if you go a long time without praying, even though you have energy and are not negative, or you feel like you have an especially normal condition inside, you will feel like you are doing things by yourself and there are no results in what you do?
Excerpted from “The Significance and Practice of Prayer” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Sometimes, when you are enjoying the words of God, your spirit is touched, and you feel that you cannot help but love God, that there is great strength within you, and that there is nothing that you cannot 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 cannot 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 God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In today’s age the Holy Spirit still moves people to allow them to feel enjoyment, and He lives together with man. This is the source of those[a] special, pleasurable feelings that often occur in your life. Every once in a while, a day comes when you feel that God is so lovely and you cannot help but pray to Him: “Oh God! Your love is so beautiful and Your image is so great. I wish to love You more deeply. I wish to devote all of myself to expend the entirety of my life. I will dedicate everything to You, as long as it is for You, as long as in doing this I am able to love You….” This is a feeling of pleasure given to you by the Holy Spirit. It is not enlightenment, nor is it illumination; it is the experience of being moved. Experiences similar to this will happen now and then: Sometimes when you are on your way to work, you will pray and draw close to God, and you will be moved to the point where tears will wet your face and you will lose all self-control, and you will be anxious to find a suitable place where you can express all of the fervor inside your heart…. There will be times when you are in some public place, and you will feel that you enjoy so much of God’s love, that your lot is anything but ordinary, and even more that you are living your life with more meaning than anyone else. You will know deeply that God has exalted you and that this is God’s great love for you. In the deepest recesses of your heart you will feel that there is a kind of love in God that is inexpressible and unfathomable for man, as if you know it but have no way to describe it, always giving you pause for thought but leaving you unable to express it completely. At times like this, you will even forget where you are, and you will call out: “Oh God! You are so unfathomable and so beloved!” This will leave people puzzled, but all such things occur quite frequently. You have experienced this sort of thing so many times. This is the life that the Holy Spirit has given to you today and the life that you should now be living.
Excerpted from “Practice (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Now you should be able to clearly see the precise path that Peter took. If you can clearly see Peter’s path, then you will be certain about the work being done today, so you will not complain or be passive, or long for anything. You should experience Peter’s mood at the time: He was stricken with sorrow; he no longer asked for a future or any blessings. He did not seek profit, happiness, fame, or fortune in the world; he only sought to live the most meaningful life, which was to repay God’s love and dedicate what he held utterly most precious to God. Then he would be satisfied in his heart. He often prayed to Jesus with the words: “Lord Jesus Christ, I once loved You, but I never truly loved You. Though I said I had faith in You, I never loved You with a true heart. I only looked up to You, adored You, and missed You, but I never loved You nor truly had faith in You.” He constantly prayed to make his resolution, and he was always encouraged by the words of Jesus and drew motivation from them. Later, after a period of experience, Jesus tested him, provoking him to yearn for Him further. He said: “Lord Jesus Christ! How I miss You, and long to look upon You. I lack too much, and cannot make up for Your love. I beg You to soon take me away. When will You have need of me? When will You take me away? When will I once again look upon Your face? I do not wish to live any longer in this body, to continue becoming corrupted, nor do I wish to rebel any further. I am ready to dedicate all I have to You as soon as I can, and I do not wish to sadden You any further.” This is how he prayed, but he did not know at the time what Jesus would perfect in him. During the agony of his test, Jesus appeared to him again and said: “Peter, I wish to make you perfect, such that you become a piece of fruit, one that is the crystallization of My perfection of you, and which I will enjoy. Can you truly testify for Me? Have you done what I ask you to do? Have you lived out the words I have spoken? You once loved Me, but though you loved Me, have you lived Me out? What have you done for Me? You recognize that you are unworthy of My love, but what have you done for Me?” Peter saw that he had done nothing for Jesus and remembered his previous oath to give his life to God. And so, he no longer complained, and his prayers from then on grew much better. He prayed, saying: “Lord Jesus Christ! I once left You, and You too once left me. We have spent time apart, and time together in company. Yet You love me more than all else. I have repeatedly rebelled against You and repeatedly grieved You. How can I forget such things? I am always bearing in mind and never forget the work You have done on me and what You have entrusted me with. I have done everything that I can for the work You have done on me. You know what I can do, and You further know what role I can play. I wish to submit to Your orchestrations, and I will dedicate everything I have to You. Only You know what I can do for You. Although Satan fooled me so much and I rebelled against You, I believe You do not remember me for those transgressions and that You do not treat me based on them. I wish to dedicate my entire life to You. I ask for nothing, and neither do I have other hopes or plans; I only wish to act according to Your intention and to do Your will. I will drink from Your bitter cup, and I am Yours to command.”
Excerpted from “How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
I subjected him to countless trials—trials, naturally, that left him half-dead—but amidst these hundreds of trials, he never once lost faith in Me or felt disappointed in Me. Even when I said I had forsaken him, still he was not discouraged, and continued to love Me in a practical way and in accordance with past principles of practice. I told him that I would not praise him even though he loved Me, that I would ultimately cast him into Satan’s hands. But amid such trials, trials that did not come upon his flesh, but were of words, he still prayed to Me and said, “O God! Among heaven and earth and all things, is there any human, any creature, or any thing that is not in the hands of You, the Almighty? When You are merciful toward me, my heart greatly rejoices with Your mercy. When You judge me, unworthy though I may be, I gain a greater sense of the unfathomableness of Your deeds, because You are filled with authority and wisdom. Though my flesh suffers hardship, my spirit is comforted. How could I not give praise to Your wisdom and deeds? Even if I were to die after knowing You, how could I not do so gladly and happily? Almighty One! Do You really not wish to let me see You? Am I really unfit to receive Your judgment? Could it be that there is something in me You do not wish to see?” During such trials, even though Peter was not able to accurately grasp My will, it was evident that he was proud and honored to be used by Me (even though he received My judgment so that humanity might see My majesty and wrath), and that he was not distressed by these trials. Because of his loyalty before Me, and because of My blessing of him, he has been an exemplar and model to man for thousands of years. Is this not precisely what you should emulate?
Excerpted from “Chapter 6” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh
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. If it can express Your disposition and allow Your righteous disposition to be seen by all creatures, and if it can make my love for You more pure, that I can attain the likeness of one who is righteous, then Your judgment 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 it is also a testimony to his love of God. … Near the end of his life, after he had been made perfect, Peter said, “O God! If I were to live a few more years, I would wish to achieve a purer and deeper love of You.” When he was about to be nailed to the cross, in his heart he prayed, “O God! Your time has now arrived; the time You prepared for me has arrived. I must be crucified for You, I must bear this testimony to You, and I hope that my love can satisfy Your requirements, and that it can become purer. Today, to be able to die for You, and be nailed to the cross for You, is comforting and reassuring to me, for nothing is more gratifying to me than to be able to be crucified for You and satisfy Your wishes, and to be able to give myself to You, to offer up my life to You. O God! You are so lovely! Were You to allow me to live, I would be even more willing to love You. As long as I am alive, I will love You. I wish to love You more deeply. You judge me, and chastise me, and try me because I am not righteous, because I have sinned. And Your righteous disposition becomes more apparent to me. This is a blessing to me, for I am able to love You more deeply, and I am willing to love You in this way even if You do not love me. I am willing to behold Your righteous disposition, for this makes me more able to live out a life of meaning. I feel that my life now is more meaningful, for I am crucified for Your sake, and it is meaningful to die for You. Yet still I do not feel satisfied, for I know too little of You, I know that I cannot completely fulfill Your wishes, and have repaid You too little. In my life, I have been incapable of returning my entirety to You; I am far from that. As I look back at this moment, I feel so indebted to You, and I have but this moment to make up for all of my mistakes and all the love that I have not repaid You.”
Excerpted from “The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text reads “These are some.”