EXERCISING OUR SPIRIT BY PRAYER
Now we need to consider how we can exercise our spirit to turn on the spiritual switch. We can exercise our spirit by prayer. When a person walks, he exercises his two feet. Before a child learns to walk, he has to crawl. I know many Christians who do not know how to pray by exercising their spirit. They pray by considering something in their mind. They know how to pray by their mind but not by their spirit. Do you pray by your mind and even by your emotion? Or do you pray by your spirit? You need to consider the way you pray. As a rule, a prayer must be by the spirit. This is the right organ for us to use when we pray. We know we have many organs that function to do certain things. The ears are for us to hear, the eyes are for us to see, and the tongue is for us to taste. In our physical body, the hands are for us to touch, and the feet are for us to walk. If we are going to think, to consider, we must do it by our mind. But we have to realize that prayer is something different from all these things. We pray by our spirit; we pray by the exercise of our spirit.
There are some verses in the Scripture which show us that we need to pray by the spirit and in the spirit. Romans 8:26 says, "In like manner the Spirit also joins in to help us in our weakness, for we do not know for what we should pray as is fitting, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Ephesians 6:18 says, "By means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints." Jude 20 says, "Praying in the Holy Spirit." We have these verses confirming that prayer must be carried out in the spirit. To walk or run is to exercise the feet, to see is to exercise the eyes, and to hear is to exercise the ears. In the same way, to pray is to exercise the spirit.
The problem is that many times when we pray, we do not exercise our spirit. Rather, we exercise our mind. Sometimes we become quite emotional when we are happy. Maybe we have received some money or we have obtained a good job. We are very emotional and we pray to the Lord. I am afraid that that kind of prayer is not a prayer in the spirit but a prayer in the emotion. Sometimes when you are depressed, suppressed, or even oppressed, you shut up your mouth and cannot pray for a prolonged period of time. This simply means that you are not strong in your spirit. Sometimes when we come together, some brothers compose a good and nice prayer with the best terms, phrases, and terminology, but that is a prayer by the mind. That kind of prayer cannot touch people’s spirit.
When a person prays in the spirit, his prayer will touch your spirit. So we have to learn to exercise our spirit to pray. To exercise means that we have to learn, to practice. I know many Christians who love the Lord but do not know how to pray to contact the Lord in a living way. Sometimes they just pray in a simple way by exercising their mentality to utter some words with their mouth. That kind of prayer is dead and dry because they do not pray in their spirit. When we exercise our spirit to pray, our prayer will be living and refreshing. Our prayer will water others’ spirits.
Some of us may say that we do not know how to pray. But praise the Lord, there is a way for us who do not know how to pray. The way is to groan. Many prayers with clear words are not genuine prayers. When we pray with many clear words, this proves that our prayer is of the mind. When genuine prayers come out, many times they come out in a stammering voice, a groaning voice. Romans 8:26 speaks of "groanings which cannot be uttered." I would give you a suggestion. If you do not have the clear word to express, do not think, do not consider, do not exercise your mind. Forget about your mind. Simply exercise your spirit, and if you do not know what to say, just groan. If you would groan for a while, you will be watered and refreshed by the Lord. You will not be so dry. After you have groaned for a while, you will have a lot of things to speak. However, if you go to the Lord with your mind in the same way that you go to the laboratory, the more you pray, the drier you will become. Learn to forget about your mind. You are too much in your mind. Learn to exercise your spirit.
(The Centrality and Universality of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)