7. The Principles of Praying and Supplicating to God
(1) When encountering all difficulties, or when in plight and faced with a dilemma, one should open wide their heart in prayer and supplication to God to seek His leadership and guidance;
(2) In praying to God, one should, in addition to supplicating to Him, commune with Him often; lay bare their heart with simple, open speech; and learn to grasp His will;
(3) Especially when reading God’s words, one should seek the truth from Him and learn to pray within His words and commune with Him. This is the most effective way to understand the truth;
(4) One should pray to God with a heart of reverence, as well as with good sense. One should neither make requests of Him nor attempt to coerce or exploit Him, nor should one attempt to make deals with God.
Relevant Words of God:
Concerning the Practice of Prayer
(A Selected Chapter of God’s Word)
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 lovable 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 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.
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 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.
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, 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. 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.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh
After God created mankind and granted them spirits, He enjoined them that if they did not call out to Him, then they would not be able to connect with His Spirit and, thus, the “satellite television” from heaven would be impossible to receive on earth. When God is no longer in people’s spirits, there is an empty seat left for other things, and Satan thus seizes the opportunity to get in. When people contact God with their hearts, Satan immediately panics and rushes to escape. Through mankind’s cries, God gives them what they need, but He does not at first “reside” within them. He simply gives them constant aid because of their cries, and from that internal strength people gain hardiness, so that Satan dares not come in to “play” at its will. So, if people continuously connect with God’s Spirit, Satan does not dare to come and cause disruptions. Without Satan’s disruptions, all people’s lives are normal, and God then has the opportunity to work unhindered within them. As such, 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
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.
Excerpted from “The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
There is nothing God despises more than the prayers of religious ceremony. Prayers to God are only accepted when they are sincere. If you have nothing sincere to say, then keep quiet; do not always speak false words and blindly make oaths before God, trying to deceive Him, talking about how much you love Him, about how much you wish to be loyal to Him. If you are incapable of achieving your desires, if you lack this resolve and stature, do not, under any circumstances, pray thus before God. That is ridicule. Ridicule means making fun of someone, trifling with them. When people pray before God with this kind of disposition, then at the very least, this is deception. At worst, if you do this often, then you are of utterly contemptible character. If God were to condemn you, it would be called blasphemy! People have no reverence toward God, they do not know how to revere God, or how to love and satisfy Him. If the truth is not clear to them, or their disposition is corrupt, God will let it slide. But they bring such character before God, and treat God as the unbelievers treat other people. Moreover, they solemnly kneel before Him in prayer, using these words to try and wheedle God, and when they are finished, they not only feel no self-reproach, but also have no sense of the seriousness of their actions. That being the case, is God with them? Can someone who is utterly without the presence of God be enlightened and illuminated? Can they be enlightened with the truth? (No, they can’t.) Then they are in trouble. Have you prayed thus many times? Do you do so often? When people spend too long in the outside world, they reek of society’s stench, their scummy nature is amplified, and they become suffused with satanic poisons and ways of living; what come from their mouths are words of falseness and deceit, they speak without thinking, or else speak words that always contain nothing but their own motivations and aims, and seldom have the proper motivations. These are serious problems. When people take these satanic philosophies and ways of living before God, do they not offend God’s disposition?
Excerpted from “Only When You Know Yourself Can You Pursue the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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
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 make everything I do 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? Would God work on you if you come before Him and pray in such a way? Would I listen if you came before Me and spoke in such a way? I would kick you out the door! Are you not the same before the Spirit as you are before Christ? When one comes before God to pray, they must give consideration to how they might do so sensibly, and to how they might adjust their inner state to achieve piety and be capable of submission. Having done so, it is then fine for you to go ahead and pray; you will feel God’s presence. Many times, people fall to their knees in prayer; they close their eyes, and no words come to them except, “Oh, God! Oh, God!” Why do you shout so, wordlessly, for a long time? Your state is not correct. Do you ever do this? You now know what you can do and to what extent you can do it, and you have taken your own measure, but there are many times when you will be in abnormal states. At times, though your state may have adjusted, you may not know how this has happened, and, more often than not, no words come to you in prayer. You may even attribute this to a lack of education. Must one be well educated to pray? A prayer is not an essay—just speak sincerely, with the reason of a normal person. 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 asked if it were possible for God to take this cup from Him. What did that mean? He prayed that way because He thought of the great suffering of bleeding 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 such 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 will 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 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 will, after which He no longer implored for anything. In His first two prayers, He was just seeking, and 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 will not prepare suitable conditions for you and will let you suffer hardships. It is so unreasonable for people to always pray, saying, “God, I ask You to make preparations for me and give me strength.” You must be reasonable when you pray, and you must do so under the premise that you are submitting. Do not set the terms before you pray. Before you even begin to pray, you are already setting the terms, thinking: I must implore God and get Him to do such and such. This way of praying is so unreasonable. Oftentimes, God does not listen to people’s prayers at all, so when people pray, they feel nothing at all.
Excerpted from “The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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.
Excerpted from “The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Most people do not pray truly much of the time; they merely think back to the past, with scant knowledge in their minds and a willingness to repent, yet they have neither contemplated nor fathomed the truth. To contemplate God’s words and seek the truth while praying is far more profound than mere recollection and knowledge. The stirrings visited on you by the work of the Holy Spirit and the enlightenment and illumination His work supplies to you through God’s words lead you to true knowledge and true repentance; they are much more profound than human thoughts and knowledge. This is something you must know well. If you engage merely in superficial, haphazard thinking and examination, you have no fitting path on which to practice, and you make little progress toward the truth, then you will remain incapable of change. There are times, for instance, when people resolve to expend themselves in earnest for God, and to repay His love in earnest—yet, with this desire, you may not expend yourself with much energy, and your heart may not be wholly committed to the endeavor. If, however, having prayed and been moved, you make a resolution and say, “God, I am willing to suffer hardship; I am willing to accept Your trials; and I am willing to submit to You completely. No matter how great my suffering, I am willing to repay Your love. I enjoy Your great love, and You have raised me up so—for this, I thank You from the bottom of my heart, and give all glory unto You,” after having offered such a prayer, your whole body will be empowered, and you will have a path on which to practice. This is the effect of prayer. After a person prays, the Holy Spirit sets to work on them, enlightening, illuminating, and guiding them, and giving them the faith and courage necessary to put the truth into practice. There are people who read God’s words daily without achieving such a result, yet, having read them, when they fellowship about them, their hearts grow bright, and they find something of a way forward. If, in addition, the Holy Spirit moves you a bit and gives you a bit of guidance, as well as a bit of a burden, the results will be very different indeed. When you read God’s words on your own, you may be somewhat moved, and you may weep, only to have the feeling pass after a short while. If, however, you offer a tearful prayer, an earnest prayer, or a prayer that is genuine and sincere, then you will be given such vigor as can last for days. This is the effect of prayer. The purpose of prayer is to have people come before God and accept that which He would give them. If you pray often, and come often before God to commune with Him, and have a normal relationship with Him, then you will always be moved inside by Him, and will always receive His provisions—and one who always receives God’s provisions is changed, and their conditions are ever improving. In particular, when brothers and sisters pray together, an especially great energy arises afterward, and they feel they have gained a great deal. In truth, they may not have fellowshiped much in their time together; it was prayer that roused them, such that they could not wait a second longer to renounce their families and the world, and they wanted nothing, and having God alone sufficed. What great faith! The power that the Holy Spirit’s work gives man can be enjoyed without end! How far can you go without relying on that power, but bracing yourself and stiffening your neck as you walk on, or depending on your own perseverance and willpower? Not far ahead is where you will fall and be degraded; as you walk, your strength will fail. People must maintain their contact with God unto the end! Yet man, as he walks on, strays far from God. God is God, man is man, and each follows their own path; God speaks the words of God, and man walks his own path, which is not the same as God’s. When a person loses strength in their belief in God, they come before God to pray a few words and borrow a bit of strength. After they have got some energy, they depart once more. In a while, they run out of fuel, and come back to God for more. When acting this way, a person cannot sustain it for a long time; if a person leaves God, they have no way forward.
Excerpted from “The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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.
Excerpted from “The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh