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:

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.

Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” 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 Talks of Christ of the Last Days

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. I am only able to consecrate my whole being unto You, so that You may gain glory from 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

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

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.

Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

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

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.

Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

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.

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

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? And what will be the consequence of this? On the surface, these prayers are attempts to deceive and fool God, and are incompatible with His will and requirements. Fundamentally speaking, this is caused by human nature; it is not some momentary revelation of corruption.

Excerpted from “Only When You Know Yourself Can You Pursue the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

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 Talks of Christ of the Last Days

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. As most of you seldom interact with Me directly, you are restricted to praying before the Spirit, and once you begin to pray it becomes a question of whether the words you say are sensible; whether you are truly worshipful; whether what you are asking for meets with God’s approval; whether, within your prayer, there is a transactional element, or whether it is adulterated by human impurities; whether your speech, behavior, and decisions accord with the truth; whether you have special reverence, respect, and obedience for God; and whether you are truly treating God as God. One must treat what they say privately in prayer seriously, and take an earnest approach to it; only thus can you have normal sense when you come before Christ. If you do not take it seriously before the Spirit, then when you come before Christ, you will always be resistant, or you will talk unreasonably, or speak dishonestly, or constantly cause disruption with your speech and actions, and afterward you will always feel reproached. Why will you always feel reproached? Because, as a rule, you have not the least knowledge of the truths of how to worship or treat God, so, when you encounter an issue, you are confused, and do not know how to practice, and make mistakes constantly. How should people who believe in God come into His presence? To examine, through prayer, how one is to speak with good sense, how one is to speak from a position that a human being should take, how one is to speak from a state of obedience, how one is to speak when one is feeling inward turmoil or when one cannot say what one means, and how one is to speak from the heart, or to speak the truth. You will be much better at this when you come to God’s presence after practicing this for a while. Ordinarily, your prayers in the presence of the Spirit are not sensible—you have never placed any importance on this, and you even believe that God doesn’t notice, so you can say whatever you want, and it won’t matter if you say something wrong. You are careless and muddleheaded all day long, and as a result, when you do come into the presence of Christ, you are afraid of saying or doing something wrong. But the more you are afraid of getting things wrong, the more you will get them wrong, and you can never make it up. And since you can’t be in constant touch with Christ or hear Christ talking to you face to face, all you can do is to come often into the presence of the Spirit to pray and to seek, and to arrive at submission. This is because even if I talked to you face to face, you would still have to rely on yourself to walk this path. From now on, you must pay more attention to what you say when you pray. Try praying, pondering, and feeling, gradually, over time, and then, once the Holy Spirit enlightens you, you will have made progress in this regard. The feeling you get when the Holy Spirit enlightens you is especially subtle. After having some of these subtle feelings and subtle knowledge, if you do some things, or, coming into contact with Christ, take care of some things, you will then be able to recognize which words are spoken with good sense, and which are not, which things are done with good sense, and which are not. You will have achieved the purposes of prayer.

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

Prayer is mainly about speaking honestly. “Oh, God! You know man’s corruption. Today I have done another unreasonable thing. I harbored an intention—I am a deceitful person. I wasn’t acting according to Your will or the truth. I acted as I willed and tried to justify myself. Now, I recognize my corruption. I ask You to enlighten me more and allow me to understand the truth, put it into practice, and cast off these corruptions.” Speak this way; give a factual account of factual matters. 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 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.

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

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

Previous: 6. The Principles of Communing With God

Next: 8. The Principles of Praying to God and Worshiping Him

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