How do you currently pray? How is it an improvement on religious prayers? What do you actually understand about the significance of prayer? Have you examined these questions? Everyone who does not pray is distanced from God, 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? Right now, God’s work is already nearing the end and the relationship between God and man can be seen from man’s prayer. How do you behave when the people below you flatter you and praise you for the results you produce in your work? How do you react when people give you suggestions? Do you pray in God’s presence? You pray when you have matters and difficulties, but do you pray when your conditions are good, or when you feel that you had a successful meeting? So most of you don’t pray! If you held a successful meeting, you should offer a prayer; you should offer a prayer of praise. If someone praises you, you become prideful, feeling like you have the truth, you fall into the wrong condition, and your heart is happy. You do not have a prayer of praise, much less a prayer of thanksgiving. The result of you falling into this condition is that your next meeting will be dull, you won’t have the words to say, and the Holy Spirit will not work. People cannot grasp their own conditions, they do a little work and then enjoy the fruits of their work. In a negative condition, it’s hard to tell how many days they will need to recover. This kind of condition is the most dangerous. You all pray when you have a matter or when you don’t see things clearly; you pray when you have doubts and hesitations about something or your corrupt disposition has been exposed. You only pray when you are in need of something. You must also pray when you have some success in your work. When you achieve some results in your work, you become excited, and once you are excited, you don’t pray; you are always happy and always trapped inside. Some of you at this time receive discipline: When you go out shopping, you hit a snag and something goes wrong for you; the shopkeeper says many harsh words that make you feel uncomfortable and pressured, and you still don’t know in what way you have sinned against God. In fact, most of the time, God uses the external environment to discipline you; for example, He uses things like an unbeliever cursing you, or having your money stolen to make you feel uncomfortable. In the end, you will come to God’s presence to pray and while you pray, some words will come out. You will come to recognize that your condition was not right, for example, you were satisfied and pleased with yourself…, then you will feel disgusted by your self-satisfaction. Along with the words in your prayer, the incorrect condition inside of you will turn around. As soon as you pray, the Holy Spirit will work on you; He will give you a type of feeling and make you come out of the incorrect condition. Prayer is not all about seeking. It is not that you pray when you need God and don’t pray when you don’t need God. Have you discovered that if you go a long time without praying, even though you have energy and are not negative, or you feel like you have an especially normal condition inside, you will feel like you are doing things by yourself and there are no results in what you do?
I have said before: “People are engaged in their own affairs and do their own thing.” Nowadays, people don’t pray when they work; God is not in their hearts at all, and they think: “I will just do it according to the work arrangements and in any case I won’t do anything wrong or disturb anything….” You didn’t pray and moreover you didn’t give thanks. This condition is terrible! Often times, you know that this condition is not right, but if you don’t have the proper method, you can’t turn around. Even if you understood the truth, you wouldn’t be able to practice it; even if you knew your improper condition inside (being arrogant, corrupt, or rebellious), you wouldn’t be able to adjust or suppress it. People are busy working on their own thing and don’t heed the work or operation of the Holy Spirit. They only care about their own matters and as a result, the Holy Spirit abandons them. Once the Holy Spirit abandons them, they will feel dark and dry; they will not receive a bit of nourishment or pleasure. Many people only pray once every half a year. They take care of their matters and do their work, but they feel dull, sometimes thinking: “What am I doing, and when will this come to an end?” Even these thoughts will arise. Not praying for a long time is very dangerous! Prayer is so critical! Church life without ever praying makes gatherings very dull and dry. Therefore, when you are together, you must always pray and offer praise, and the Holy Spirit will work especially well. The strength the Holy Spirit gives people is endless; people can use it at all times without exhausting it—it is always available. When relying on themselves, people may have the gift of gab, but if the Holy Spirit does not work in this, then what are they able to accomplish? Often times, people pray three to five times with only one or two phrases, “Oh God, I thank You, I praise You,” then they have nothing else to say, they can’t open their mouths. What level of belief this is; it is very dangerous! Right? People believe in God, but they don’t even have the words to praise Him or thank Him, and they don’t have the words to give glory to God. They don’t even dare utter the words “ask God,” and they are too embarrassed to say them. They are too degenerate! Despite the fact that you say you believe in God and you admit God in your heart, if you don’t come into God’s presence, and your heart is far from God, then the Holy Spirit will not work. Especially you leaders, every morning when you wake up, you must pray. After you pray, your day will be particularly good and enriching, and you will feel the Holy Spirit at your side protecting you at all times. If you don’t pray for a day, or if you go three to five days without praying, you will feel especially lonely and desolate. You will miss your loved ones and your longing for them will become especially strong.
Now I have found that people all have a problem: When they have a matter, they come to God’s presence, but prayer is prayer and matters are matters, and people think that they should not talk about matters when they pray. You seldom have a true prayer, and some of you even don’t know how to pray; in fact, prayer is mainly about speaking what is in your heart, just like a normal conversation. However, some people take the wrong position when they pray, and regardless of whether it conforms with God’s will or not, they demand God to bestow what they ask for upon them. As a result, the more they pray the duller it becomes. When praying, whatever your heart asks for, desires, and requests, or when you wish to take care of some matters that you don’t fully understand you ask God for wisdom, strength, or enlightenment, you must be reasonable in the way you speak. If you are unreasonable, and you kneel and say: “God, give me power and let me see my nature; I ask You to do it. Or, I ask You to give me this or that, I ask You to let me be like this or like that,” this word “ask” carries an element of force, and is like exerting pressure on God to make Him do it. Moreover, you predetermine your own matters. Even though you pray this way, the Holy Spirit sees it as: Since you have already predetermined it yourself, and you want to do it that way, what will be the outcome of this kind of prayer? You should seek and submit in your prayers; for example, if a matter came upon you that you didn’t know how to handle, then you say: “Oh God! This matter has come upon me, and I don’t know how to handle it. I am willing to satisfy You in this matter, I am willing to seek You, I desire for Your will to come to pass, I desire to do according to Your intentions, and not according to my own. You know that the intentions of man are in violation of Your will; they resist You and do not conform with truth. I only desire to do according to Your intentions. I ask You to enlighten me and guide me in this matter, so that I won’t offend You….” This kind of tone of voice in prayer is appropriate. If you merely say: “Oh God, I ask You to help me and guide me; prepare a suitable environment and suitable people for me, so that I can do well in my work,” when this kind of prayer is over, you still don’t know what God’s will is, because you are trying to make God do things according to your intentions.
Now you need to grasp whether the things you say in your prayers are reasonable or not. Regardless of whether you are foolish or whether you are praying intentionally this way, if your prayers are not reasonable, then the Holy Spirit won’t work in you. Therefore, when you pray, the words you say must be reasonable, and your tone must be appropriate: “Oh God! You know my weaknesses and You know my rebelliousness. I only ask You to give me power, so I can withstand the tests of this environment. However, be it according to Your will. I am only asking this and I don’t know what Your will is, but I desire for Your will to be done; regardless of whether You use me in service or make me serve as a foil, I am willing either way. However, I ask You for strength and wisdom to allow me to satisfy You in this matter. I am only willing to submit to Your arrangements….” After you pray this way, you will feel especially steadfast. If you merely are persistent in asking and asking, then when you have finished asking it will be nothing more than a bunch of empty words, because you have already predetermined your intentions. When you kneel to pray, you should say something like: “Oh God! You know my weaknesses and You know my conditions. I ask You to enlighten me in this matter and let me understand Your will. I only desire to submit to all of Your arrangements and my heart desires to submit to You….” If you pray like this, then the Holy Spirit will move you and if the direction of your prayer is not right, then it will become dull and dry, and the Holy Spirit will not move you; you are merely murmuring, silently praying, or closing your eyes and saying a few words at will, which is simply perfunctoriness. If you are perfunctory, will the Holy Spirit work? People who come to God’s presence must all behave properly and show piety. Look at the priests’ sacrifices during the Age of Law, they were all kneeling. Prayer is not that simple of a thing. People come before God, yet they are still defiant and unrestrained, and want to lie down on their bed and close their eyes. This is unacceptable! I don’t say these things to require people to follow some specific rules; at the very minimum, their hearts must turn to God and they must have an attitude of piety in God’s presence.
Your prayers lack reason far too often; they all have this tone of voice: “Oh God! Since You have let me be a leader, You have to make everything I do be appropriate so that Your work won’t be interrupted and the interests of God’s family won’t suffer losses. You must make me do things this way….” Is this necessary? This prayer is not reasonable! Can God work in you when you come into God’s presence and pray unreasonably like this? If you came into the presence of Christ and spoke to Me without reason, would I listen? You would be kicked out! Isn’t it the same to be in the presence of the Spirit and in the presence of Christ? When you come to the presence of God to pray, you must think about how to speak reasonably and think about what to say to be able to turn your inner condition into piety. Humble yourself, then say a prayer and you will be anointed. Often times when people pray, they will kneel and close their eyes and they don’t say anything; they merely say, “Oh God, oh God!” They just say these two words, calling out for quite a while without saying anything else. Why is this? Your condition is not right! Do you have times like this? As far as your current situation is concerned, you know what you are able to do and to what level you can do it, and you know who you are. However, often times your condition is abnormal. Sometimes, your condition is adjusted, but you don’t know how it was adjusted, and many times you pray without any words, thinking that it is because you are not educated. Do you need to be educated to pray? Prayer is not writing an essay, it is simply speaking according to the reason of a normal person. Look at the prayer of Jesus (mentioning the prayer of Jesus is not to make people take the same angle and position as Him), He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “If it be possible….” That is, “if it is possible.” It happens through consultation and not through saying “I ask You.” He was keeping a submissive heart in His prayer, and in His submissive state, He prayed: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.” He still prayed like this the second time, and the third time He prayed: “May Your will be done.” He grasped the will of God the Father, saying: “May Your will be done.” He was able to completely submit without choosing Himself in the slightest degree. He said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” What does that mean? It is because of the thought of bleeding on the cross to His last dying breath and the great pain. This involved death and was said under the premise that He had still not completely grasped the will of God the Father. He was very submissive since He was able to pray that way despite the thought of the pain of being crucified. His prayer was normal, He didn’t pray to strike bargains nor to say it had to be removed, but rather it was to seek God’s intentions in a situation that He didn’t understand. The first time He prayed, He didn’t understand and said: “If it be possible … but as You will.” He prayed to God in a state of submissiveness. The second time, He prayed in like manner. In total, He prayed three times (of course these three prayers did not merely happen in three days), and in His final prayer, He completely understood God’s intentions. Afterward, He didn’t ask for anything. In His first two prayers, He sought, and in seeking, He was still in a state of submissiveness. However, people don’t pray like that. They always say, “God, I ask You to do this and that and ask You to lead me in this and that, and I ask You to prepare conditions for me….” Perhaps He won’t prepare suitable conditions for you and will let you suffer hardships. If people always said, “God, I ask You to make preparations for me and give me power,” the prayer would be so unreasonable! You must have reason when you pray, and you must pray under the premise of submissiveness. Don’t decide. Before you pray, you are deciding: I must ask God and tell God what to do. This kind of prayer is so unreasonable. Often times, the Spirit does not listen to people’s prayers at all, therefore, their prayers are dull.
Even though people kneel down to pray in an intangible realm, they speak and pray, you must understand that people’s prayers are also a channel for the Holy Spirit to work. When people pray and seek in the correct state, the Holy Spirit will also work at the same time. These are two aspects by which God and people can successfully coordinate with each other, or in other words, it is God helping people take care of matters. This is a type of man’s cooperation in God’s presence; it is also a method for God to make people complete. It is more so the path for people’s normal entry into life—it is not a ceremony. Prayer is not merely about arousing one’s strength or calling out some slogans; it is not like this. If that is all it was, then it would be enough to just go through the motions and yell out some slogans; there would be no need to ask for anything, no need to worship and no need for piety. The significance of prayer is very deep! If you pray often and if you know how to pray, frequently praying submissively and reasonably, then you will frequently feel particularly normal inside. If you frequently pray with a few slogans and don’t have a burden, or ponder how you are speaking reasonably or unreasonably in your prayer, and what kind of way of speaking is not true worship, and if you are never serious about these matters, then your prayers won’t be successful and the condition inside you will always be abnormal; you will never deeply enter into lessons of what normal reason is, what true submission is, what true worship is, and where to stand. These are all subtle matters. Because most people have little contact with Me, they can only come into the presence of the Spirit and pray. When you pray, it involves whether your words are reasonable, whether your words are about true worship, whether God praises you for the things you ask for, whether your words are about transactions, whether there are human impurities in your words, whether your words, actions and determinations are in accordance with truth; whether you have great reverence, respect and submission toward God, and whether you truly treat God like God. You must be serious and earnest with the words you pray when not in the presence of Christ. Only in this way can you be normal in the presence of Christ. If you are not serious in the presence of the Spirit, when you come into the presence of man (Christ), you will always be in conflict, or you will not have reason in your words, or you will not be honest in your words, or you will always interrupt with your words and actions. After the matter is over, you will always reproach yourself. Why are you always reproaching yourself? Because you ordinarily have no understanding of the truth in your worship of God and in how you treat God. Therefore, when matters come upon you, you get confused and don’t know how to practice, and you will always do things wrong. How do people who believe in God come into God’s presence? Through prayer. When you pray, examine how to speak with reason, how to speak in the right place for people, how to speak in a state of submissiveness, and what kind of way of speaking makes your heart uncomfortable (with the exception of prayers that are not spoken sincerely). It would be much better if you practiced for a period of time and then came to God’s presence. Ordinarily, your prayers in the presence of the Spirit are not reasonable and you never focus on this. You believe that God doesn’t see you, so you can say whatever you want, and if you say something wrong it is no big deal. You are careless and muddleheaded all day, and as a result, when you come into the presence of Christ, you are afraid of saying something wrong and doing something wrong. Even though you are afraid of saying something wrong, you will say something wrong; even though you are afraid of doing something wrong, you are bound to make mistakes; even though you are afraid to be indebted, you are sure to be indebted, and you won’t be able to make up for your indebtedness. Because you can’t often contact Christ or hear Christ talk to you face to face. You can only come often to the presence of the Spirit to pray, seek and submit, because even if I talked to you face to face, you would have to rely on yourself to walk this path. From now on, you have to pay more attention to what you say when you pray. As you pray, ponder, and feel, and the Holy Spirit enlightens you, you will make progress on this aspect. The enlightening feeling of the Holy Spirit is especially subtle. If you have these subtle feelings and subtle recognition, if afterward you do some things, or take care of some things when you have contact with Christ, then you will be able to recognize which words have reason, which words don’t have reason, which things have reason, and which things don’t have reason. This meets the purposes of prayer.
You must be serious in the way you treat prayer. If you lie in bed and pray, believing that God can hear you, you are not showing piety! Many people in the Bible prayed and didn’t jump to conclusions after discussing something. Everything was ultimately determined by the Holy Spirit through prayer. Jericho was attacked through prayer; the people of Nineveh repented and asked God to pardon them also through prayer. Prayer is not a ceremony, there is a lot of significance in it. What can we see from people’s prayers? People are directly serving God. If you look at this as a ceremony, then you will certainly not serve God well. It can be said that if your prayers are not earnest or sincere, then God will not count you, He will ignore you. If you are ignored, will you have the Holy Spirit working in you? Therefore, you lose energy in doing your work. From now on, without prayer, you can’t work. It is prayer that brings work and prayer that brings service. You are a leader and a person who serves God, but you have never devoted yourself to prayer and have never been serious in your prayers. In serving this way, you will fail. What qualifications does man have to not pray? Because God became flesh? That is not a reason. Sometimes I also pray. When Jesus was in the flesh, He prayed when critical matters came upon Him. He prayed on a mountain, on a boat, and in the garden, and He led His disciples to pray. If you come to the presence of God often and pray often, then it proves that you take God seriously. If you frequently do work yourself and you frequently don’t pray, you frequently do this and that behind His back, then you are not serving God, but rather you are just doing your own business. Are you not condemned in doing your own business? From the outside looking in, it doesn’t seem like you have done anything disturbing, and it seems like you have not blasphemed God, but you are doing your own thing. Are you not interrupting? Even though it looks like you are not interrupting from the outside, you are resisting God in nature.
People have all experienced this; things that come upon them in a way they don’t want are especially difficult to bear; when they are uncomfortable, they will talk to someone and after a while, they won’t feel uncomfortable. Avoiding discomfort doesn’t resolve their condition. Sometimes when difficulties come upon them at work, they feel pressured, and when pruning and dealing comes upon them, they feel especially pressured…. During these discomforts how many times did they come to God’s presence to pray? Each time they made adjustments by themselves and turned around in a muddleheaded way. Therefore, people believe in God but God is not in their hearts. They are all blindly doing things without value, like a beggar who picks a little bit of this and a little bit of that out from the garbage can, and fills his bag; but it is worthless and is done completely blindly. People frequently deviate from the correct path, they walk away from it from time to time. We can see people’s nature from this. The nature of people is to betray. They have no God after they work for some time. They even think: “I believe in God; how do I not have God? Am I not working for God?” Your heart does not have God, you distance yourself from God and betray Him in whatever you do. Prayer is a most profound thing; if you go about serving without even praying, then you are serving in vain. Your condition will become more abnormal and you will have less results. Prayer is not about how good your words are while you pray, you only need to speak the words of your heart and speak honestly according to your difficulties. Speak from the perspective of being a part of the creation and from the perspective of submission: “Oh God, You know that my heart is too hard. Oh God, lead me in this matter; You know I have weaknesses, I am too lacking and am unsuitable for You to use. I am rebellious and interrupt Your work when I do things; my actions do not conform with Your will. I ask You to do Your own work and we will only cooperate….” If you cannot say these words, then you are finished. Some people think: “When I pray I must discern whether the prayer is reasonable or not; it is impossible to pray.” This is not a problem. Practice for a time and you will get it. Pray and you will know if there are words that are not appropriate. When people pray, their relationship with God is the most direct relationship. The relationship between people and God becomes the most intimate during prayer. Can you usually kneel and pray right away when you are doing something? People’s relationship with God is the closest when they kneel and pray. When you are reading the words of God, if you pray and then read again, you will feel differently. If you don’t pray for a period of time, then you won’t understand God’s words when you read them. You won’t know their meaning when you have finished reading.
Praying and seeking in God’s presence is not about forcing God to do this and that. What is a reasonable prayer? What is an unreasonable prayer? You will know after gaining experience for some time. For example, after you pray this time, you feel that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do it that way and doesn’t lead you that way. When you pray the next time, you won’t pray like that, won’t force God like you tried to last time, and won’t ask God for things according to your own will. When you pray again, you will say: “Oh God! Everything is done according to Your will.” As long as you focus on this approach, and grope about for a while, then you will know what “unreasonable” is. There is also a kind of situation where people feel in their spirit that when they pray according to their own intentions, they become dull, speechless, awkward, and speak without words. The more they say, the more awkward it becomes. This proves that when you pray like this, it is completely following the flesh, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t work or guide you that way. This is a matter of groping about and a matter of experience. Even if I were done speaking to you right now, when you experience this, you might have some special situations. Prayer is mainly about speaking honestly: “Oh God! You know my corruption, and today I have done another unreasonable thing. I had an intention inside, but I am deceitful. At the time I did not do it according to Your will or according to the truth, but rather I did it according to my own intention, and I defended myself. Now I recognize my corruption and I ask You to enlighten me more and allow me to understand the truth and put it into practice so I can throw off these things.” Speak this way; confess and speak truthfully about actual matters: “Oh God! I am willing to throw off my corruption, I am willing to change my disposition and put the truth into practice.” Often times people do not truly pray, they merely think and reflect, they merely have mental awareness and repentance. However, they do not thoroughly understand the truth, which must be done through prayer. After praying, the degree of your understanding will be much deeper than if you were to just reflect. The Holy Spirit works to move you, and the condition, feelings, and the moving He gives you allow you to have a deep understanding of this matter, and your degree of remorse will be especially deep. You will deeply regret this matter and will therefore thoroughly understand it. If you merely perfunctorily examine yourself, and afterward, you don’t have a suitable path to practice, and you don’t make any progress in the truth, then you won’t be able to change. To draw on an example, sometimes when people set a resolution, they think: “I must diligently expend myself for God and diligently reciprocate God’s love.” When you have this intention motivating your expenditure, your enthusiasm will not necessarily be very great, and your heart will not necessarily be completely invested into this aspect. However, if you are moved when you pray and then you set a resolution: “I am willing to suffer hardships, I am willing to receive trials from You, I am willing to completely submit to You. Regardless of how many hardships there will be, I am willing to reciprocate Your love. I enjoy Your great love and this great exaltation. I am grateful to You from the bottom of my heart and give the glory to You.” With this type of prayer, you will be endowed with power; this is the result obtained from prayer. After praying, the Holy Spirit will enlighten and illuminate people, and lead people, and will give people the faith and courage to put the truth into practice. Some people read the word of God every day and don’t produce these results. After they read God’s words, and they fellowship and communicate, their hearts will be bright, and they will have a path. If the Holy Spirit also gives you some moving, burdens and guidance, then it will be very different. If you are moved a little after merely reading God’s words, and you shed tears at the time, that moving will fade away after working for a while. If you have a tearful prayer, an earnest prayer or a sincere prayer, your energy will not go down three days after the prayer is over. Doesn’t everyone have this kind of experience? This is the result obtained from prayer. The purpose of prayer is so that people can come into the presence of God and receive the things God intends to give them. If you frequently pray and frequently come into God’s presence, then you will have a continual relation with God, and you will always be moved by Him, always receive His provisions; and therefore you will be transformed, your conditions will continually improve and will not regress. Especially when brothers and sisters join together in prayer. When the prayer is over, there is an exceptionally large amount of energy, everyone’s face is full of perspiration and they feel they gain a lot of things. In fact, after a few days of being together they haven’t communicated much, it was prayer that aroused their energy, and they wish that they could abandon their families and the world all at once, they wish that they could give up everything, all except for God. You see that their energy is so great. The Holy Spirit works to give people this power and people will never fully enjoy it! If you don’t rely on this power, harden your heart and stiffen your neck; or if you rely on your own willpower and aspirations, then where can you go? You won’t get far before you trip and fall, and you will not have that power as you go. People must maintain contact with God from beginning to end, but people get rid of God as they go. God is God, people are people, and they go their separate ways. God speaks His word and people walk their own paths. When people have no power, they may come to God and say a few words to borrow some power. After they borrow a little power, they run away. After running for some time, they run out of strength, and go back to God and ask Him for a little more strength. People are like this and they can’t hold on for a very long time. When people leave God, then they have no path.
I have realized that many people’s ability to restrain themselves is especially lacking. Why is this? People never pray, and when they don’t pray, they become dissolute; once they are dissolute, they have no piety or humility; they merely pay attention to humanity, integrity, and knowing their corrupt nature, and that is all. People ignore how the Holy Spirit actually works and moves people, and how they should seek God’s will in their daily lives. People’s belief in God is merely a belief, and there is nothing spiritual about it. These are two different things. It is merely the world of materialism, and it denies the spiritual things. Therefore, while people are walking, they stray and fall. Without prayer, their practice of the truth can only adhere to one principle within a certain scope; they only practice rules. Even though you don’t offend God by fulfilling the arrangements from the above, you are just obeying the rules. People’s spiritual feelings nowadays are numb and slow. There are many subtle things in people’s relationship with God, such as feeling spiritually moved or enlightened; but people don’t feel this, they are too numb. It is like singing, when people don’t sing often, then they are unsure of the tune. People don’t read God’s word and they never connect with the things of spiritual life. They don’t have a grasp on their own conditions. Without praying and without the church life, it is impossible to grasp the condition of spiritual life. Do you feel like this? To believe in God, it is necessary to pray like this. Without praying, then you cannot have the likeness of believing in God. Now we say, there is no need for regulations, man can pray at any time and in any place. So, some people pray very seldom; they arise in the morning and don’t pray. They comb their hair, wash their face, and then they read and sing. At night they lie down and go to sleep without praying. Do you feel like this? If you merely read God’s word without praying, then you will be like an unbeliever who reads God’s word and doesn’t understand it. Without prayer, your heart cannot be fully devoted and you cannot have subtle feelings in your spirit or moving within your spirit. You will be numb and slow, and will merely say some outward things about transforming your disposition. It seems as if you believe in God, but actually, the depths of your feelings are not far reaching. It seems as if you don’t believe in God, and you can’t pray no matter how you try. This is already very dangerous. You are far away from God, it seems as if God is not in your heart. Returning to the spirit to pray does not interrupt the busy work on the outside; it not only does not cause interruption, but is also advantageous to the work.