Today we will discuss a question: What is true prayer?
What do you think is true prayer?
A. Adhering to morning and evening prayers every day
B. Offering prayers of gratitude before meals, and giving thanks in all things
C. Praying for a long time and reciting more Bible verses
D. Praying to God with a sincere heart and speaking what is in our heart honestly
18 It Is So Important to Pray Genuinely
Zhuiqiu Jiuquan City, Gansu Province
Doctrinally most believers in God know that prayer is very important and we should all pray genuinely. But in our real life, we do not pay attention to praying genuinely. Most of the time, we pray to God perfunctorily and deceitfully. For example, many times we rest content with praying several times a day without caring whether we have achieved results, and sometimes we even do not know what we have said in our prayer. Sometimes we do not feel like praying, but when we see that other brothers and sisters are praying, we also kneel down and say something carelessly. When we encounter difficulties, most often we weep them out to God in prayer, asking God to help us get things done in any way. When we are in a good state and achieve good results in our work, we pray to God to keep us always in such a state and let us always achieve good results. When we are dealt with and feel aggrieved, we air our grievances before God: “O God, you are almighty and you know the truth of the matter best. I am really not as the leader said….” None of such prayers is genuine prayer.
Actually, each of us wants to pray to God genuinely, but why can’t we often pray genuinely? The main reason is that we have little true knowledge of the significance and the importance of prayer.
Let us read a few passages of God’s word: “Prayer is not a ritual, and it has meaning in many aspects. What can be seen from one’s prayer? One is directly serving God. If you take it as a ritual, then you certainly cannot serve God well. If you do not pray to God with your heart and do not pray genuinely, it can be said that in God’s eyes, you do not count and you do not exist. How can you have the working of the Holy Spirit if you do not exist? So, you will be dispirited before you do much work. From now on, no prayer, no work. It is prayer that brings forth work and brings forth service. … The purpose of praying is that one can come before God and receive the things which God will give man. If you often pray and often come before God, you will often be connected with God and will often have his moving and receive his supply within. As you often receive it, you will be transformed, and you will be in a better and better condition and not be depressed.”
“No one can lack fellowship with God. If you lack prayer, you will live in the flesh and live in satan’s bondage. Without genuine prayer, you will live under the influence of darkness.”
“Anyone who does not pray is a person who stays away from God. Anyone who does not pray is a person who follows his own will. Having no prayer means staying away from God and forsaking God.”
“Prayer is a path for man to cooperate with God, a way for man to call on God, and a course for man to be moved by God’s Spirit. It can be said that a person without prayer is a dead one without a spirit, and it shows that he does not have the organ to receive God’s moving. Without prayer, one cannot have a normal spiritual living, much less keep up with the working of the Holy Spirit. Without prayer, one’s relationship with God will be cut off and he cannot receive God’s approval. As a believer in God, the more one prays, that is, the more moving he receives from God, the stronger will he will have and the more he can receive the newest revelation from God. Thus, such a person can be perfected by the Holy Spirit sooner.”
From God’s words we can clearly see that prayer is a way for people to call on God, a process for people to be moved by the Spirit of God, and a way for people to come before God to receive what God wants to give to them. Without genuine prayer, we have no relationship with God and do not exist in his eyes. Without genuine prayer, we are like a dead person without a spirit, living under the influence of darkness and being unable to free ourselves from it. Without genuine prayer, we are staying away from God and forsaking God. Without genuine prayer, we cannot possibly be godly and will act unrestrainedly. And when we do the work, we will be doing it according to our own will and will actually be doing our own work and carrying out our own management. Without genuine prayer, we will not receive the working of the Holy Spirit easily, will gradually become muddled and dispirited while doing the work, will not know how to handle the problems that we encounter, and will be unable to control our states. Only if we pray to and fellowship with God genuinely can we have a normal relationship with God and live in a normal state. Only if we pray genuinely can we receive the working of the Holy Spirit, understand God’s intention, and serve God genuinely. Only if we pray genuinely can we in performing our duty receive the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit and act precisely according to God’s intention, so that we will not go our own way. Only if we pray genuinely can we have a normal spiritual living and receive revelation and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit when eating and drinking God’s word, so that we can understand the truth and God’s intention. Only if we pray and seek genuinely can we understand God’s intention in the circumstances or trials that we encounter, and can we have the power to overcome the influence of darkness of satan. Thus, we can see that praying genuinely can bring so many benefits to our performing duties and life entering. If we want to gain the transformation of our disposition, know God and ourselves, or practice the truth and forsake our flesh, we have to pray genuinely. It is so important and significant to pray genuinely! In those days, it was through prayer that the Israelites took Jericho; it was through prayer that the men in the city of Nineveh repented and obtained God’s forgiveness. Today, it is also through much prayer that we receive the working of the Holy Spirit and achieve results in spreading God’s end-time gospel. When we are weak and passive, it is through prayer that we receive strength from God and come out of the wrong state. When we are confronted with persecutions or sufferings, it is through prayer that we gain a genuine faith in God and pull ourselves through them. When we face a choice and are struggling between our flesh, our family, money, the world, and God, it is through prayer that we receive the leading of the Holy Spirit and understand God’s intention, and finally choose God. When we encounter difficulties in our work and are at a loss what to do, it is through praying and seeking that we receive the revelation and guidance of the Holy Spirit, have ways to practice, and also gain the faith and strength to face up to and overcome the difficulties. I believe that each of us has more or less had such experiences. Nevertheless, in our experience we have also experienced the helplessness and suffered losses because we do not pray genuinely. I remember when I was a church leader, I was refined concerning my marriage during a period of time. At that time, I had no desire to pray at all. God inspired and guided me within and let me understand that I could only be freed from the emotional plague by praying to him for strength. But I was stiff-necked and did not follow it. As a result, I sank deeper and deeper in it, so that I even wanted to throw up my duty and get married. Later, I was disciplined by God and thus was forced to give up my choice. And I had a co-worker who gained some experience and achieved some results in her work after working for many years. Gradually she became complacent and began to appreciate herself, always considering that she was capable of doing this and that. So, she no longer prayed to God genuinely and earnestly and prayed as if going through a mere formality. As a result, her state became more and more abnormal, she achieved no more results in her work, and in the end she was removed because she had lost the working of the Holy Spirit. There are too many such examples around us. Thus, we can see that prayer cannot be ignored and that it is so important to often pray to God genuinely and fellowship with God.
God says: “After prayer, the Holy Spirit works on man to inspire and guide man, thus bringing man faith and courage so that he can practice the truth.” “The strength which the working of the Holy Spirit gives to man can be enjoyed inexhaustibly! If you do not rely on this strength but walk with a hardened heart and a stiff neck or walk by your perseverance and will, where can you go! Before you walk long or walk far, you will tumble and fall. That strength will disappear after you walk for some time.” From God’s words we see that the strength that man receives from the working of the Holy Spirit is limitless and inexhaustible, and praying genuinely is one way through which we receive the working of the Holy Spirit. If we do not pray genuinely, we will not easily receive the working and revelation of the Holy Spirit, and will thus accomplish nothing and be unable to do anything. The more we pray genuinely, the more we will receive inexhaustible strength and turn various difficulties. Once, a couple of us testified God’s end-time work to a senior leader of one denomination. We exercised all necessary skills, spending more than twenty days, and spoke all that we should say, but the gospel friend simply refused to accept it. Just when we were thinking of giving up, a sister said, “Let’s pray together.” So we all knelt down and prayed to God earnestly. The Holy Spirit worked on us greatly and all the brothers and sisters present were moved to tears. After the prayer, the gospel friend said excitedly, “I believe the way you preach is the true way.” So he returned to God’s family joyfully. Another time I went to a church to hold a meeting. Because I was in a bad state, I did not know what to say. Thus I had no choice but to pray with the brothers and sisters, “O God, you know we have too many deficiencies. Without your leading, we cannot resolve any difficulties. May you lead and supply us according to what each of us lacks….” After the prayer, the Holy Spirit worked greatly. Through eating and drinking and fellowshipping about God’s words, not only did the brothers and sisters receive supply and have great enjoyment, but my state was also corrected. I really felt that all this was the result brought by praying genuinely. Similarly, when we eat and drink God’s word, if we do not pray earnestly but only try to understand God’s word with our brains, we can only have a literal understanding of the letters no matter how much effort we spend. But if we receive revelation and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit through prayer, the result will be greatly different and we can understand the real meaning of God’s word and will have great enjoyment and receive full supply. Again, when we are in a bad state, if we pray to God sincerely and tell God our true state, we will unconsciously receive revelation and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, find out the root of the problem, and have ways to enter in. When we feel suppressed in our work and down in the spirit, if we come before God and pray genuinely, we will gradually receive faith and strength from God. Then we will feel from our heart that God has never left us but is always helping and leading us in secret, and we will also realize that God does not impose an unbearable burden upon us and that the difficulties in the work are to test and perfect us. Thus our faith will be redoubled and we will no longer feel they are difficult. When we face the great red dragon’s severe tortures or our relatives’ persecutions, through prayer we can receive faith and strength from God, and can see that God is our supporter, and that God is with us, ready to rescue us from the siege and help us over the difficulties at any time and in any place. Thus, we can easily see that prayer is so important. It is prayer that brings the working of the Holy Spirit and brings a turning point. All these such as leading the church, preaching the gospel, eating and drinking God’s word, adjusting our personal state, and so on need prayer. Without praying genuinely, we will not have the working of the Holy Spirit; without the working of Holy Spirit, we will not accomplish anything. Therefore, we should pay attention to pray genuinely to receive more of the working of the Holy Spirit, so that our work and service will be more and more effective and our corrupt disposition be more and more transformed.
How should we pray genuinely, then? God says: “When you pray, you have to have a heart quiet before God and have a sincere heart, and should have genuine fellowship and prayer with God and not say nice words to deceive God. When you pray, center on what God wants to accomplish now, ask God to give you more revelation and enlightenment, and bring your actual states and difficulties before God, including making resolutions before God. To pray is not to go through the motions but to seek God with a true heart and to beseech God to keep your heart, so that your heart can often be quiet before God, and you can know yourself, hate yourself, and forsake yourself in the environments God arranges for you, and thus you can have a normal relationship with God and truly become a person who loves God.” “When you pray, pray with a heart of loving God, seek God’s care and keeping, and seek God’s searching. If you pray with such a heart, you will achieve results in your prayer. For instance, when you are praying at a meeting, if you pray to God with an open heart, not telling lies to him but telling him what is in your heart, you will surely achieve results in your prayer.” From these words we see that, to pray genuinely, first of all, we have to be clear that while praying, we are in the presence of God and are fellowshipping with God. Thus, we can accept God’s searching with a God-fearing heart and pray to God with a godly attitude and a sincere heart. If we practice this way, we can speak honestly and enter into praying genuinely. Second, while praying, we should consciously quiet our heart before God, exercise to tell God our mind and the truth, speaking what we think, committing our true state and actual difficulties to God and looking up to God, without deceit and without concealment. God loathes man’s falsehood, hypocrisy, and deceit most, so, whether God listens to our prayer depends on whether the words we pray are genuine and sincere. Besides, in our daily life we must eat and drink God’s word more, seek to understand God’s intention and find out his requirements for us in his word, and then pray based on what God wants to accomplish at present, pray on the basis of sensing God’s heart’s desire, and fellowship with God based on his word. Such prayer is very practical and genuine. The more we eat and drink God’s word, the more we will have a burden for our life, and unconsciously, the more prayers and fellowships we will have with God. We either pray in order to receive revelation and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, or offer thanks and praises to God for gaining new knowledge in God’s word, or repent to God of our corruption and disobedience that we have known in God’s word, or make a resolution or a vow to God after understanding God’s requirements for man in God’s word. Such prayers all come from the depths of our heart and the need of our life. Though sometimes we do not pray many words or pray long, we pray genuinely and sincerely. These are the main aspects to start with to achieve praying genuinely.
Of course, to achieve praying genuinely is not an easy matter. We need to have faith and perseverance and spend more effort on prayer, for none of the aspects of the truth can be put into practice at one go and all need a process. As God says: “When you pray, you have to have faith, perseverance, and will. Most people, at the beginning of their exercise, are prone to become discouraged when they cannot touch the moving of the Holy Spirit. This will not do! You have to be persistent and pay attention to touching the moving of the Holy Spirit and to seeking and groping. Sometimes your way of practice is wrong, and sometimes your own intents and notions cannot stand before God, so God’s Spirit does not move you; sometimes God wants to see whether you are faithful. Anyhow, when you exercise, you have to pay much price. If you find that your way of practice is deviant, you can pray in a different way. As long as you seek genuinely and thirst to gain, the Holy Spirit will surely lead you into this reality. Sometimes you do not touch much moving even though you pray with a true heart. At such times, you should have faith and believe that God searches your prayer. You should have perseverance in prayer.” Therefore, in the course of exercising prayer, we should have perseverance, make steady efforts, and much more, have faith. As long as we cooperate with God in a proper way, God will surely lead us to have practical entering in in prayer so that we can achieve praying genuinely.