The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice (Part One)

How do you currently pray to God? How is it an improvement on religious prayers? What do you actually understand about the significance of prayer? Have you reflected on these questions? Everyone who does not pray is distanced from God, and everyone who does not pray follows their own will. The absence of prayer implies distance from God and betrayal of God. What is your actual experience with prayer? The relationship between God and humans can be seen from people’s prayers. How do you behave when the brothers and sisters admire and praise you for the results you produce in your work? How do you react when people give you suggestions? Do you pray before God? All of you take the time to pray when you face problems or difficulties, but do you turn to God in prayer when you are not in a good state? Do you pray when you reveal corruption? Do you truly pray? If you do not truly pray, you will not progress. Especially in gatherings, you should offer prayers and praise. Some people have believed in God for many years, but unfortunately, they don’t pray very often. They understand a few words and doctrines and become arrogant, thinking they have come to understand the truth, that they have gained stature, and they feel very pleased with themselves. As a result, they become mired in this kind of abnormal state, and when they next come to pray, they find themselves with nothing to say, and without the work of the Holy Spirit. When a person cannot control their state, they might enjoy the fruits of labor after doing a little work—or they might become negative, start slacking off in their work, and stop doing their duty when they come up against a little bit of difficulty, which is very dangerous. This is how people without conscience or reason are. Most people only take the time to pray when they have difficulties, or when they cannot fully understand a matter. They only pray when doubts and indecision plague them, or when they reveal a corrupt disposition. They pray only when they are in need. This is normal. However, you also must pray and offer up thanks to God when you get results in your work. If you only care about being happy and do not pray, are always elated, always enjoying these feelings, but you forget God’s grace, this is a complete loss of reason. When you depart too far from God, sometimes you are made to suffer discipline; or perhaps you run into a wall when you try to do things; or you make a mistake and are pruned, are made to hear words that pierce the heart, and you endure pressure or misery, all without knowing exactly what you did to offend God. In fact, God oftentimes makes use of external environments to discipline you, cause you pain, and refine you, and when you finally come before God to pray and reflect, you realize that your state is incorrect—complacent, smug, and full of self-admiration, perhaps—you become disgusted with yourself, and totally remorseful. Once you pray to God and confess, you begin to loathe yourself and wish to repent, and at this time your incorrect state begins to rectify itself. When people truly pray, the Holy Spirit does His work, giving a certain feeling, or enlightenment, which allows them to emerge from an abnormal state. To pray is not merely to seek a bit, to observe a few formalities, and then be done with it. It is not to speak a few words of prayer when you need God, and then none when you do not. If you go a long time without praying, even if your state looks normal from the outside, you will be relying on your own will in the performance of your duty, doing whatever you want, and in this way, you will be incapable of acting in accordance with principles. If you go a long time without praying to God, you will never be enlightened or illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Even if you do your duty, you are merely following the regulations, and performing your duty in this way will not bear the fruits of testimony to God.

I have said before that many people handle their own business and engage in their own affairs in the course of their duties, and people remain this way today. After working for some time, they stop praying, and God is no longer in their hearts. They think, “I will simply do as dictated by work arrangements. In any case, I haven’t made any mistakes, and I haven’t caused any disruptions or disturbances….” When you do things without praying, and if you do not give thanks to God when things are done well, there is a problem with your state. If you know your state is wrong, but you are unable to adjust it yourself, then you will constantly rely on your own will in your actions, and even when you understand the truth, you cannot put it into practice. You constantly think that your way of thinking is correct and you always stick to it, you do what you like, you ignore how the Holy Spirit works, you bury yourself in your own endeavors, and as a result, the Holy Spirit forsakes you. Once the Holy Spirit forsakes you, you will feel dark and withered. You will not be able to feel any nourishment or enjoyment at all. There are many people who do not truly pray even once in half a year. This kind of person no longer has God within their heart. Some people don’t usually pray, and they pray only when they are in danger or are suffering an affliction. Although they still perform their duty, they feel spiritually withered, so they inevitably have negative thoughts. Sometimes they think, “When can I finally be done with my duties?” Even thoughts like this may appear, all because they have not prayed for a long time, and have become distanced from God. If this gives rise to an unbelieving, evil heart, it is very dangerous. Prayer is critical! A life without prayer is dry as dust, and cannot obtain the work of the Holy Spirit; such people do not live before God, and they have already fallen into darkness. Therefore, you need to often pray and fellowship on God’s words, so you can enjoy the work of the Holy Spirit and praise God from your heart. Only in this way can your life be filled with peace and joy. The Holy Spirit works especially strongly in those who offer prayer and praise in everything. The power the Holy Spirit grants people is infinite, and people can never use it up or exhaust it. People might speak and preach endlessly, and they might understand many doctrines, but without the work of the Holy Spirit, it is useless and for nothing. There are many cases where people may spend half their day praying, but only come out with a couple of words while doing so, such as, “God, I thank You and praise You!” After a while, they might come out with the same sentence again. They can’t think of anything more to say to God, they have no inner thoughts to tell Him. This is very dangerous! If people who believe in God can’t even utter words to praise, thank, and glorify Him, how can they be said to have a place for Him in their hearts? You may claim to believe in God and recognize Him in your heart, but you don’t come before Him, you are unable to tell Him what is in your heart when you pray, and your heart is too distant from God, and so the Holy Spirit will not do His work. When you wake up every morning, you must open your heart sincerely in prayer, read God’s words, and then contemplate them until you find light and have a path of practice. Do this, and the day will be especially good and fulfilling, and you will feel that the Holy Spirit is always with you, protecting you.

I have noticed that many people have a problem in common. When they have issues, they come before God to pray, but when nothing troubles them, they ignore God. They cling to the pleasures of the flesh as they will, but never wake up. Is this believing in God? Is this having true faith? To lack true faith is to lack a path to walk. Without true faith, one cannot know what actions of belief in God are in line with God’s will or by which actions one might attain the truth or grow in life. Without faith, a person is blind, possessed of the desire to pursue but lacking direction and goals. So how is faith produced? Faith is produced by prayer and fellowship with God, and even more so by reading God’s words and gaining the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The more you understand the truth, the more faith you will have. Those who lack understanding of the truth have no faith at all, and even if they mingle with the church, they are nonbelievers. People who believe in God cannot do so without prayer and reading God’s words. If they just keep attending meetings, but rarely sincerely pray, they will find themselves farther and farther away from God. All of you seldom genuinely pray, and some people still don’t know how to pray. The fact is that prayer is primarily about speaking from your heart. This is opening your heart to God and opening up simply before Him. If a person’s heart is of the right kind, then they are able to speak from the heart, and in this way, God hears and accepts their prayer. Some people only know to beg when they pray to God. They continually beg God for grace, saying nothing else, and thus the more they pray, the more dried up they feel. When you pray, whether you yearn for something, seek something from God, ask God to grant you wisdom and strength in a matter you are handling which you can’t see clearly, or ask God for enlightenment, you must possess the reason of normal humanity. Without reason, you will fall to your knees and say, “God, I beg You to give me faith and strength, I beg You to enlighten me and allow me to see my nature, I beg You to work and grant me grace and blessings.” There is a compulsory note in this “begging.” This is a way of putting pressure on God, of telling Him this matter must be done, as if it was predetermined. This is not sincere prayer. To the Holy Spirit, when you have already set the terms and have decided what you are going to do, are you not just going through the motions? Is this not cheating God? 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 don’t know what to do about this. I wish to satisfy You in this matter and to seek Your will. I wish to do as You will, not as I will. You know that human will is entirely contrary to Your intentions, entirely resistant to You, and does not accord with the truth. May You enlighten me, give me guidance in this matter, and allow me to not offend You….” That is the appropriate tone for a prayer. If you say, “God, I ask that You help me, guide me, prepare the right environment and the right people, and let me do my work well,” after your prayer, you will still fail to grasp God’s intentions, because you are asking God to act according to your will. Now, you must ascertain whether the words you use in prayer have reason, and whether they are from the heart. If your prayers do not have reason, the Holy Spirit will not work on you. Therefore, when you pray, you must speak with reason and with a suitable tone. Say, “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. I don’t know what Your will is, and I just make this request. Nevertheless, may Your will be done. Even if I am made to render service or serve as a foil, I will do so willingly. I ask that You give me strength and wisdom, and allow me to satisfy You in this matter. I wish only to submit to Your arrangements….” After such a prayer, your heart will particularly feel at ease. If all you do is beg, 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, “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 that You arrange, and my heart is willing to submit to You….” Pray thus, and the Holy Spirit will move you. If your intention is wrong when you pray, and you always make demands of God based on your own will, your prayers will be dry and barren, and the Holy Spirit will not move you. If you just close your eyes and spout off some hackneyed platitudes to muddle through with God, will the Holy Spirit move you like that? When people come before God, they must behave in an obedient manner and have a pious attitude. You are coming before the one true God, speaking with the Creator. Should you not be pious? It is no simple thing to pray. When people come before God, they brandish their fangs and claws, completely lacking in piety; and when they pray, they’re supine in their homes, uttering a few simple, superficial words, and they think they are praying and that God is able to hear them—is this not self-deception? My purpose in saying this is not to demand that people adhere to some specific regulation. However, the least one can do is have a heart of submission to God and come before God with a pious attitude. Your prayers lack reason far too often. You always pray with the following tone, “Oh God! Since You have given me this duty to perform, make everything I do appropriate, so that Your work won’t be disrupted and the interests of God’s family won’t be harmed. You must protect me….” Such a prayer is too lacking in reason, is it not? Will 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 without reason? If you made Me detest you, I would directly kick you out! Are you not the same before the Spirit as you are before Christ? When you come before God to pray, you must give consideration to how you might speak with reason, and to how you might adjust your inner state to achieve piety and be capable of submission. Once you do so, praying again will be good, and you will feel God’s presence. Many times, people fall to their knees in prayer; they close their eyes, and all they can do is cry out, “Oh, God! Oh, God!” Why would they shout wordlessly in this way for a long time? This is because of people’s incorrect mentality and abnormal state. When a person cannot reach God in their heart, their prayers are wordless. Do you ever do this? You now know your own measure, but when your state is abnormal, you don’t reflect on yourselves or seek the truth, and you are unwilling to come before God in prayer, or eat and drink of God’s words. This is dangerous. Regardless of whether a person’s state is normal or not, or what problems arise, they must not stray from prayer. If you don’t pray, even if your state is normal now, over an extended period of time, it will become abnormal. Praying and reading God’s word must be normal. Reading God’s words to seek the truth can lead to true prayer, prayer can gain God’s enlightenment, and this can enable a person to understand God’s word. In praying to God, the most important thing is to first correct your mentality. This is the principle of prayer. If your mentality is incorrect, you will not be pious, you will just be going through the motions, and you will be cheating God. If you have fear of God and submission to God within your heart, and you pray to God, only then will your heart be at peace. Therefore, when you pray, you must have a correct mentality, and your prayers will bear fruit. If you often practice in this way, telling God what is truly in your heart when you pray, and saying what your heart most wants to say to God, then without even noticing it, you will be able to pray to God, and you will be able to fellowship normally with God.

Prayer does not require that you are educated or cultured, and it is not making an essay. Just speak sincerely, with the reason of a normal person. Consider Jesus’ prayers. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “If it be possible….” That is, “If it can be done.” This was said as part of a 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.” He continued to pray 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 any personal choice at all. In prayer, Jesus said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” What did that mean? He prayed this way because He thought of the great suffering of bleeding on the cross to His last dying breath—this touched upon the matter of death—and because He had not yet completely grasped the intentions of God the Father. To pray like that, despite the thought of such suffering, shows the great depth of His submission. The manner of His prayer was normal. He did not propose any conditions in His prayer, nor did He say the cup had to be taken away. 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, and in His final prayer, He came to completely understand God’s will, after which He asked no more. 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 always say, “God, I ask You to do this and that, and I ask You to guide me in this and that, and I ask You to make ready conditions for me….” Perhaps God will not prepare suitable conditions for you. Perhaps God will make you suffer hardship as a means to teach a lesson. If you are always praying like this—“God, I ask You to make preparations for me and give me strength”—it is extremely unreasonable! When you pray to God, you must be reasonable, and you should pray to Him with a heart of submission. Don’t try to determine what you will do. If you try to determine what to do before you pray, this is not submission to God. In prayer, your heart must be submissive, and you must first seek with God. In this way, your heart will naturally be brightened during prayer, and you will know what is appropriate to do. Going from your plan before prayer to the change produced in your heart after prayer is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. If you have already made your own decision and have determined what to do, and then you pray to ask God for permission or to ask God to do what you want, this kind of prayer is unreasonable. Many times, people’s prayers are not answered by God precisely because they have already decided what to do, and just ask God for permission. God says, “Since you have decided what to do, why ask Me?” This kind of prayer feels a bit like cheating God, and thus, their prayers dry up.

Even though people are talking to God when they kneel down to pray, you must see clearly: Prayer is an avenue for the Holy Spirit to work in people. The Holy Spirit always enlightens, illuminates, and leads people while they pray. If people pray and seek while they are in a correct state, then the Holy Spirit will be doing work at the same time. This is a sort of unspoken pact between God and humans; you could also say it is God helping people take care of matters. Prayer is a way for people to come before God and cooperate with Him. It is also a way for God to save and purify people. Moreover, it is a path to life entry; it is not a ritual. Prayer is not just a way to motivate people, nor is it just a formulaic way of satisfying God. Such thoughts are wrong. Prayer is deeply meaningful! If you believe in God, you can neither walk away from prayer nor from reading God’s words. Through prayer, the Holy Spirit works in people, enlightens them, and leads them. If people do not pray to God, they will have a hard time obtaining the work of the Holy Spirit. If you pray frequently, practice prayer frequently, and frequently pray with a heart of submission to God, then your internal state is normal. If, when you pray, it is usually just a few sentences of doctrine, and you do not open your heart to God or seek the truth, nor do you contemplate God’s will and demands, then you are not truly praying. Only people who frequently contemplate the truth, whose hearts are frequently close to God, and who frequently live in God’s words have real prayer, have words in their hearts to speak to God, and are able to seek the truth from God. To learn how to pray, you must frequently contemplate the words of God. If you can understand God’s will, then you will have much in your heart to say to Him and you will be able to understand which words are reasonable prayers, and which are not; which prayers are true worship and which are not; which prayers are seeking to grasp God’s will, and which prayers you have already decided on and are just asking for God’s permission. If you never take these matters seriously, then your prayers will never be successful, and your internal state will always be abnormal. As for what is normal reason, what is true submission, what is true worship, and what position one should occupy when praying—these lessons all involve the truths of prayer. They are all detailed matters. Because most people cannot actually see Me, they are restricted to praying before the Spirit. Once you begin to pray, it becomes a question of whether the words you say are reasonable, whether your words are truly worshipful, whether what you are asking for meets with God’s approval, whether your prayer has a transactional element, or is adulterated by human impurities, whether your prayers and speech accord with God’s will, whether you have special fear, respect, and submission to God, and whether you are truly treating God as God. You must be serious about what you say in prayer, feel for God’s will, and be in accordance with His demands. Only by praying in this way will you know peace and joy in your heart. Only thus can you have normal reason when you come before Christ. If you do not pray or say what is in your heart before the Spirit, then when you come before Christ, you are liable to come up with notions, rebel against and resist Him, or you will talk unreasonably, speak dishonestly, or constantly cause disruption with your speech and actions, and afterward you will always suffer reproach. Why will you always suffer reproach? Because generally you lack even the slightest knowledge of the truths of how to worship or treat God, and so when you encounter an issue, you become confused, do not know how to practice, and make mistakes constantly. How should people who believe in God come into His presence? It should of course be through prayer. If you have corrected your attitude when you pray and your heart is at peace, then you have come before God. After praying, you must examine whether the words uttered in prayer were reasonable, whether you were stationed in a suitable position, whether you had a heart of submission to God, and whether you were possessed of human impurity or dishonesty. If you find some problems, then you must continue praying to God, and you must admit to your impurities and flaws before God. By saying what is in your heart to God in this way, your state will become increasingly normal, you will possess more and more conscience and reason, and your incorrect states will be fewer and fewer. After you practice in this way for a while, your prayers will keep improving, and they will be heard and accepted by God most of the time. Those who can often pray to God in this way are those who have come to live before God. If you don’t take prayer seriously or amend your incorrect ways of prayer, then you will not know how to pray. As a consequence of not knowing how to pray, you will find it difficult to live before God. This kind of person will not have any life entry and they will be outside of God’s word. If you do not know how to pray or speak before God, if you are not serious when you speak, saying whatever you want, and you do not feel that there is any problem when you say wrong things, and if you have been consistently careless and muddleheaded, then as a result, when you come into the presence of Christ, you will be afraid of saying or doing something wrong. The more you fear getting things wrong, the more mistakes you will make, and you will never be able to make up for them. And because people can’t be in constant touch with Christ or often hear Christ speak to them face to face, because I cannot be before you often, all you can do is seek the truth and speak your heart before the Spirit in frequent prayer, and it is enough if you achieve submission to God and attain a God-fearing heart. Even if I speak to you face to face, it is still up to you to accept and pursue the truth and to walk the path of following God. From now on, you must pay more attention to what you say when you pray. Take your time to pray, to ponder, and to feel. Then, once the Holy Spirit enlightens you, you will make progress. 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 certain things, or if you have contact with Christ to handle certain matters, you will then be able to recognize which words are spoken reasonably and which are not, which things are done reasonably and which are not. Thus, you will have achieved the purposes of prayer.

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