By Yi Fan
Shortly after the meeting, several sisters happily fellowshiped about the gains in the meeting with each other; only Zimo sat there silently, seemingly having something on her mind. The church leader Sister Jing asked with concern: “Zimo, do you have any difficulties? Tell us and then we can fellowship about them together.”
Zimo nodded and said: “Sister Jing, there is a problem that has confused me for a long time. Every time when I pray, I have too much stress, not knowing what to say to God. Especially at meetings, hearing the brothers and sisters pray for a long time and have a lot to say to God, I will admire them very much, wanting to copy them. However, when I want to pray like this, I have no word in my heart but only repeat a few dull and insipid words many times. So I don’t want to pray. But I then think that if Ibut don’t pray, will I be counted as a believer? So I can only force myself to utter a few prayers in a perfunctory way, having no heart in the words. I always feel it’s not right, but I really don’t know how to practice. Sister Jing, please fellowship with me. What actually is true ? How should I pray to have true communion with God?”
Hearing what Zimo and Sister Jing talked about, the other sisters also hastened to sit around them. One sister said: “Yes. Sister Jing, I also have this difficulty. I even don’t know what to pray in ordinary time. Being afraid that I have nothing to pray in meetings, I will prepare a draft in advance and recite it. But the prayer like this is dry and banal, without any enjoyment. I too don’t know what actually true prayer is andto be touched by the Holy Spirit. I’m so anxious.”
Hearing the questions raised by the sisters, Sister Jing said mildly: “These questions are very good. For us believers, truly praying to God is very important, because it concerns whether we can receive, whether we have a normal relationship with God, and whether we can walk the right track of belief in God. Let’s fellowship about what true prayer is and how we should pray to truly commune with God. May God lead our fellowship.”
At this time, Sister Jing found and read a passage of God’s words: “Prayer is not a case of going through the formalities, or following procedure, or reciting the words of God, which is to say, prayer does not mean parroting words and copying others. In prayer, you must give your heart to God, sharing the words in your heart with God so that you may be touched by God.” Then she found a passage in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life and handed it to Zimo to read.
Zimo took it and read: “Someone always feels difficult to pray, saying, ‘I don’t know how to pray or what to say.’ Are you clear what the problem is? That is because you have difficulties in your heart, which you make for yourself. You always look at this thing according to your imagination. As a result, you are bound by yourself. Who will you blame? With God there is no difficulty. God has no higher demands on you, nor has He ever said that you have to pray to a point or say many words when praying. Sometimes even if you open your mouth and say just one word, it is a nice prayer. When you know He is true God and really thirst for God in your heart, even if you just say ‘Oh, God!’ that’s OK. God says this is supplication. You see, the two words are not simple. Man knows to call out to God. This is the voice from the depths of the heart. You were unable to speak it out for many years, but this time you can speak it out. After that, someone cries. Isn’t this prayer? If you have transgressions, you say, ‘I have transgressions; how should I pray?’ There are no rules. You can just say, ‘Oh, God! I was wrong.’ That’s it. And you don’t need to say other words about the remorse and pain in the depths of your heart. This is prayer. … So, the prayer has nothing to do with how many words you say. Now are you clear? There are no rules but only principles to prayer. What’s the principle? You need to try to touch God’s heart. After you know, you can pray according to His will and requirement. Seek the truth within God’s words and pay more attention to entering into the truth and God’s words. Praying to God in these aspects is the best. This is a principle of prayer. Don’t formulate rules for yourself. Now do you know what prayer is? You have known the principle of prayer; will you still follow any rules? Remember: There is no rule. Don’t always think how to speak the words in a pleasant-sounding way when you pray or how to make an eloquent prayer. It’s that you bind yourself. Are there any rules when you speak to your close friends or family? Do you need to make an article? What is called the article? The word in your heart is the word of the best article. The true word is the most beautiful word. This is the principle. The false words, regardless of how beautiful, are useless, unimportant, and unworthy. You have to be clear about this thing. Praying to God is saying the words in your heart, what you want to seek for, and what you want to commune with God. As long as your prayer is beneficial to your pursuit for the truth, to your salvation, and to your knowledge of God, then your communication, your prayer is valuable and is completely after God’s will.”
After Zimo finished reading, Sister Jing said: “Now we have heard these God’s words and this passage of the fellowship. We can fellowship about them if we have any light.”
A sister sitting aside said: “I want to talk about some of my understandings. From these words, I understand that there is no rule in true prayer. There is no need to say nice or long words when we pray. It’s just that we can speak words in our hearts to God; even if there are only a few words, as long as they come from our hearts and are true knowledge of God, the prayer is after God’s will. This is true prayer.”
Another sister interposed: “Yes. Hearing your fellowship like this, I also understand somewhat. True prayer is speaking words in our hearts to God. When we don’t know how to pray, we can pray to God and say: ‘God, I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know what to say. May You enlighten and lead me.’ This is true prayer to God. Isn’t this fellowship right?”
Sister Jing nodded and said: “Thank God! What you fellowshiped is practical. Now we are clear how we should pray to be speaking words in the heart to God. But we still need to have discernment about the prayer which is not approved of by God. Theonce said: ‘And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly’ (Matthew 6:5–6). From this we can see that the Lord Jesus detested the prayers of the hypocritical Pharisees. Although they made long, wordy, and pleasant-sounding prayers and also always stood in the corners of the streets, looking devout on the outside, they just wanted to obtain others’ praise and present their ‘devoutness’ before others. They were purely hypocritical. They didn’t pray for seeking to understand God’s will. If they had really prayed for understanding God’s will, they would not have resisted and condemned the Lord according to their conceptions and imaginations when the Lord Jesus did His work. So the Lord rebuked them for their hypocritical prayers. The prayer like this not only couldn’t gain the Lord’s approval, but instead earned the disgust of the Lord.”
Hearing this, they all nodded.
Sister Jing continued: “From Pharisees’ prayers which were not approved of by the Lord, we can reflect on ourselves and then we can find that there are many prayers like those in ourselves, such as, keeping the prayer outwardly when we attend meetings, keeping routine morning prayer and evening prayer on the outside, parroting others’ words to pray, and so on. These prayers are all not from our hearts, but just adhere to rules and go through formalities, because when we pray, we just want to show off ourselves before others to have them praise us for our good prayers and piety, or we just say repeated words without stop to present that we have a long prayer; in fact, these are not really what we want to say in our heart. Aren’t these prayers of following procedure and keeping rules the same as the Pharisees’? We can’t only keep the external forms of prayer like Pharisees. Most important, praying is speaking sincerely and honestly to God and focusing on seeking to understand God’s will in prayer.”
Having heard the fellowship, Zimo said happily: “I understand. The reason why I had nothing to pray was that when I prayed to God, I always thought how to copy others’ prayers, paying attention to letting them think highly of me. Thus I couldn’t speak heartfelt words to God. Now I recall that when I prayed, I only paid attention to brothers’ and sisters’ prayers but I didn’t focus on how I myself should open up and speak heartfelt words to God and how to seek for God’s will to resolve my difficulties and problems. I only paid attention to external formalities and actions, but did not pursue to practice and enter into the truth regarding the prayer. I was really too ignorant! Sister Jing, now I have understood how to pray to God. But I still don’t know how to pray to achieve truly communing with God. I’m still not clear about this aspect. Please fellowship some more with me.”
Sister Jing opened up God’s words and said: “God’s words can solve all the difficulties we have. Let’s read another passage of God’s words. God says: ‘Spiritual communion does not really hold to a certain format. Maybe there is an issue, maybe there isn’t; sometimes there will be something to say, and sometimes there won’t. This is spiritual communion. When there is a specific issue to talk with God about, then you can pray. When there is no issue, you just think about God, “How does God love man? How does God care for man? How does God reproach man?” “Oh God, I feel I have done this thing wrong. If I really have done it wrong, then reproach me and make me aware of it.” This is spiritual communion, and it can be done at any time and in any place. Sometimes you’re on the road and you think of something that makes your heart feel really sad. You don’t need to kneel or close your eyes, but instead you just immediately say to God in your heart: “Oh God, I pray that You guide me with this issue. I am weak and I can’t overcome it.” Your heart is stirred, and with these few simple words God knows all about it. …Sometimes, when you are chatting or fellowshiping with others, your heart may suddenly have a slight sinking feeling or feel uncomfortable, so you make haste to pray to God, and you can do this at any time and in any place. There may be nothing you want to implore for, or nothing you want God to do for you or enlighten you with, you just speak with God and chat with Him at any time and in any place. … Sometimes, you sit and think about how you’ve come through these last few years, month by month, and you feel in your heart that your stature has matured and that it is God who guides you, and that it isthat is always protecting you. When you think this, you pray in your heart: “I thank You, God!” And you offer up your thanks, and say: “I am so weak, so cowardly, and so deeply corrupted. If You didn’t guide me like this, I myself would not have made it to today. Thank God!” Is this not spiritual communion? If you were like this, then wouldn’t you have a lot to say to God? You wouldn’t go for days and days with nothing to say to God. If you have nothing to say to God, then it means that God is not in your heart. If you do have God in your heart, then you can say to God the things you can say to your intimates—God is your closest confidant. When you allow God to become your closest confidant, your closest friend, the family who you can most depend on, most lean on, and who is most trustworthy, most intimate and close, then it will be impossible not to have things to say to Him.’ God’s words clearly tell us how to pray to commune with God, right? In fact, there is no rule to commune with God and it doesn’t hold to a certain format. As long as we have some words in our heart to speak to God, we can commune with God at any time and in any place. When we have issues, we can commune with God about our difficulties and thoughts; when we have no issues, we can think about God’s love. These are all communing with God. For example, when we encounter difficulties in fulfilling our duty, and don’t know how to resolve them so that we are negative, we need to make haste to quiet our hearts before God and pray to God, asking God to enlighten and guide us so that we can come out from difficulties and negativity. God sees that we have a seeking attitude and then He will listen to our prayers and enlighten us to understand His will. Our negative state will be resolved naturally. This is communing with God. If we can often come before God like this and pray to God to commune with Him, we will grow up in spiritual life day by day and gradually deepen our love for God that a true love for God will grow in our hearts. In this way, our relationship with God will become more and more normal and we can live completely freely and unrestrainedly in God’s presence. Will we still worry about having nothing to say to God? Will we still worry about not knowing how to commune with God? Isn’t it right?”
Zimo’s eyes lit up, and she said excitedly: “Through such a fellowship, I understand. There is no rule to truly commune with God. Living freely and unrestrainedly in God’s presence, opening up to God in spirit, and regarding God as my closest confidant to talk with Him about my difficulties and words in my heart—these are all communing with God. These are all spiritual matters in life. From now on, I know how to practice. Thank God!”
Other sisters also nodded and expressed their own viewpoints. The fellowship continued …
All the glory be to God!
Maybe you also like to read: God Listens to Reasonable Prayer
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