B. On Praying to and Worshiping God
425. (A Selected Chapter of God’s Word)
Concerning the Practice of Prayer
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
426. 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
427. 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. … 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 and Practice of Prayer” in Records of Christ’s Talks
428. 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
429. 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
430. 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
431. I subjected Peter 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? Think long and hard about why I have given such a lengthy account of Peter; these should be the principles by which you act.
Excerpted from “Chapter 6” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh
432. 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