Lessons on Prayer, by Witness Lee

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All the aforementioned lessons are for the purpose of controlling the emotion. To control the emotion does not mean it becomes a pretense. It is still very real. The laugh of a diplomat is an entirely false laugh, and his sympathy for others is also not real. What we mean by a controlled emotion is not the false emotion of a diplomat. Rather, it is genuine but regulated, not raw, wild, loose, or without limitation. An emotion that is thus being controlled is restricted, regulated, and disciplined. Unless the emotion has learned these lessons, it is very difficult for our prayer life to last very long.


If your emotion has been adjusted so that it is moderate, sound, refined, temperate, restrained, tranquil, and controlled, then you will be able to bring the entire emotion into subjection to the spirit. It will then be ruled by the spirit. Your emotion will not move independently, but will have its head entirely covered before the spirit, allowing the spirit to be the head. When the spirit rejoices, it rejoices. When the spirit is grieved, it is grieved. Whenever the spirit makes a move, the emotion also makes a move. It always follows the spirit. Only an emotion that is sound, moderate, refined, temperate and restrained, tranquil, and able to exercise self-control can be directed by the spirit. At this point, the emotion becomes a spiritual emotion.

I believe, brothers and sisters, if you are without prejudice and are willing to calmly think over these points, you will find out that the cause of numerous problems in your spiritual life lies with the emotion. Why is it you cannot pray for long? Why is your spiritual life before God not so normal, but suddenly high and then suddenly low? It is because your emotion has not been adjusted so as to become moderate, sound, refined, temperate and restrained, tranquil, and always under control. You have not been able to make your emotion subject to the leading of the spirit. Your emotion is individualistic and is dominating the spirit. Your being is continuously being disturbed by the emotion. Hence, in order to be a proper man of prayer, the emotion must subject itself to the spirit, allowing the spirit to occupy the first place. Thus, you will be able to maintain a normal prayer life.


Here we will consider the function of the emotion and its relation to the spirit. We know that the emotion is the organ by which man expresses himself. The mind affords man a way of expression by causing him to know how to express himself, but it is man’s emotion that directly expresses the man himself. Likewise, God expresses Himself to a considerable extent from our spirit through our mind, but to an even greater extent He expresses Himself through our emotion. When one prays, it is the faculty of the emotion that directly utters the burden in the spirit. For example, the Holy Spirit may give you a feeling of sorrow and repentance, yet you are void of a sorrowful emotion and are still smiling cheerfully. How then can you utter a sorrowful prayer? By this we can see how important the emotion is to the spirit. Man’s expression lies with the emotion, and God’s expression is carried out mainly through our emotion. One who is without emotions has no way to express the spirit or God. Thus, one who lives before God and prays must have emotions, even abundant emotions. All who are as cold as ice in their emotion can never be spiritual.

This does not mean that if you have plenty of emotions you are automatically spiritual. It is possible that your abundant emotions will, on the contrary, cause you to become a mess. To be spiritual without becoming a mess, you need an emotion that is moderate, sound, refined, temperate and restrained, tranquil, controlled, spiritual, and abundant. If one would learn all these lessons his emotion would be most useful and precious. It would also become most competent in expressing God as well as expressing the spirit. Such a one is most learned in prayer, and God can be expressed more through him.

By studying church history and reading the biographies of spiritual men, you will find that all spiritual men are full of emotions. The more spiritual a person is, the richer his emotions are. In the Bible there is a weeping prophet by the name of Jeremiah. He said, “mine eye runneth down with water” (Lam. 1:16), and, “mine eye runneth down with rivers of water” (Lam. 3:48). He was really a weeping prophet. The feeling to weep was very heavy in him. But when you read the book of Jeremiah you can sense that, though he wept, his emotion had been disciplined. His sorrowful and weeping emotion had been restricted so that God could come to him and use him to express the sorrowful feelings that were in God’s heart. Although God was grieved and hurt because of His people, He had to find someone on this earth who had these feelings. Then when His Spirit came upon that particular one and put those feelings in his spirit, he would then express the sorrowful feeling of God out of his emotion. If Jeremiah had been a merry and cheerful prophet, God would not have been able to use him. Hence, in order that God may be fully expressed through you, you need a spiritual emotion.


From the above nine points we can see that only when the emotion has been exercised to the extent that it can be employed by the spirit can it be useful in prayer. Leviticus 10:6-9 mentions that when Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire and died before God, Moses told Aaron and his other two sons, “Uncover not your heads neither rend your clothes,” and thus prohibited them from expressing any emotion whatever. And they did according to the word of Moses. If at that time Aaron had wept or uncovered his head, he would not have been able to be the high priest anymore. This is not an easy matter. Aaron was not without grief, but he needed to control his emotion to the extent that he could be useful to God.


If one’s emotion has been adjusted to the extent of the above ten points, his emotion is one that can cooperate with God. When the emotion has been exercised to such an extent, then he can be a man of prayer before God.

(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)