IV. A HEART WITHOUT CONDEMNATION
First John 3:20-21 speaks of the condemnation of the heart. It says that God is greater than our heart, and if our heart condemns us, God will condemn us even more. But if our heart does not condemn us, we have boldness toward God. The part of our heart that condemns us is the conscience. The condemnation in the heart is the function of the conscience. A heart without condemnation is a heart in which there is no offense or fault in the conscience. If we want to learn how to pray, we must deal with our heart until it is free from condemnation.
To pray to God, the heart needs to have boldness, which results from having no barrier between it and God. Once the heart loses its boldness due to condemnation, prayer will become very difficult. Not only will it be difficult to have faith after prayer, it will even be very hard to have faith while praying. If the heart condemns itself, God will condemn you even more. Then you will have no way to pray. Hence, in order to pray, you need to deal with your heart until it is absolutely free from condemnation. Then you can go with boldness before God, and your prayer will be answered.
V. A TURNED HEART
Second Corinthians 3:14-16 tells us that to this very day the children of Israel still have a veil lying upon their heart. There remains an opaqueness, a covering, between them and God. But whenever the heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Their heart turned to things other than the Lord, and that turning away is the veil. So, in order to learn how to pray, the heart must be turned from everything else to the Lord.
In His teaching on the mountain the Lord Jesus said that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The heart is like the needle of a compass which points to whatever attracts it. If we love our children more than God, then our heart will point and turn to our children. If we love clothing more than God, then our heart will point toward the clothing. If we love education, position, or money more than God, our heart will spontaneously turn toward those things. And once our heart is turned toward those things, it becomes distracted and many problems appear. It is impure and untrue, and there is no way for it to be free from condemnation. Therefore, we must turn our heart to God. When the heart is turned in the proper direction, completely turned to God, then it can really be without condemnation. If the heart is not turned to God, it can never be free from condemnation. You may be able to deceive others, but you can never deceive God. Neither can you deceive yourself. Hence, you must learn to deal with your heart by turning it to God.
Many times, in the prayer meetings or the Lord’s table meetings, there are too few who pray, give thanks, or praise. In all likelihood it is because brothers and sisters have problems with their hearts. If your heart was not proper before God during the past week, when you come to break the bread on the Lord’s day, naturally you will not be able to give thanks or offer praise. At the same time it will not be easy to be inspired. Our heart may be just slightly inclined to things other than God. Even such a slight deviation will cause us to sense the presence of a veil between us and God. There will be an opaqueness within, so that we can no longer see God. Actually, it is not that His face is not open; rather, it is we who are covered within. If I took a handkerchief and put it over my face, I would not be able to see you. In reality, it is not that your face is turned away from me, but that my eyes are prevented from seeing you.
Furthermore, even though I may not cover my face, if I turn my back to you, this will become a veil which prevents me from seeing you. Second Corinthians 3:16 says that whenever your heart shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. The veil which is spoken of there is the turning of your back to the Lord. When your heart is turned away from God to other things, that turning away becomes a veil which prevents you from seeing God. If your heart is on your children, then your children become your veil. If your heart is on your wealth, then your wealth becomes your veil. If your heart is inclined toward education, then education becomes your veil.
Some have come to me asking, “Brother Lee, why don’t I have light when I read the Bible?” I have often answered, “Brother, there is no other reason than that your heart is not set upon God. God is light. As your heart is set upon things other than God, those things become a veil to you. Since your heart loves those things, when you read the Bible, instead of light, the veil comes. Once the veil comes, you have no light.”
There are also some who say, “When I pray, it seems there is something between God and me, and I cannot touch Him. What is the reason?” I answer in this way, “I am afraid the main reason is that your heart is inclined to something other than God. If your heart is inclined toward other things, how can you see the light of His face? It is impossible.”
When the children of Israel were at the foot of Mount Sinai, they had a veil upon them because they were not singly and purely after God, but were after other things. If our heart loves our children, wealth, or clothing more than God, these things become a veil. But also, even if our heart loves gospel preaching or the work more than God, that gospel preaching and that work will become a veil. It is very difficult for some Christians to see light because they pay more attention to God’s work than to God Himself. They allow the work to replace God. It seems they maintain the attitude that they can sacrifice God, but not the work. They can let go of God’s will and His desire, but they must keep the work at all costs. Please remember, even such a work can become a veil, and cause them to have no light within. Their lack of light is not because God does not shine on them, but because the veil is there. Their heart is not pointing toward God Himself, but to things other than God.
If we wish to learn how to pray and draw near to God, we must set our heart right and turn it to God. Not only do I not love the world, sin, fashion, and money, but even God’s work cannot attract me—for my heart is set toward God Himself. God is light, and once you turn to Him, you are in the light of His face, and you are illuminated inside. This is a certainty.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)