Lessons on Prayer, by Witness Lee

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To be refined means to be gentle, fine, and polite. A Christian’s emotion should be cultured, not wild. He is polite, whether happy or sad. You can sense that he is very polite and lovable even in grief or in anger. These are areas where the emotion needs to be adjusted. Some brothers and sisters are really gracious and polite when they are on good terms with you, but once they are angry with you they look like demons coming out of the bottomless pit. This proves that their emotion is really not refined. And some even look ugly when they are excited, because they behave in a wild, loose manner. This means their emotion has not been adjusted. By the Lord’s life, you and I need to exercise ourselves so that even in our anger there is refinement. I repeat, the emotion needs to be refined in order to have proper prayer.


To be temperate means to be mild and respectful. To be restrained means to be able to restrict oneself. Hence, to be temperate and restrained means that your emotion must always be respectful, polite, and under self-control. Do not cry with no restraint and lose your normality. Although you cry, you must still be respectful and polite, controlling and restraining yourself. Also, do not allow yourself to be unrestrained when you are angry. When you exercise your emotions, be temperate, respectful and polite, restrained and restricted. This is not merely a matter of being moderate, sound, and refined. Refinement simply means that the emotion of such a one is very polite and nice. Temperance and self-restraint mean that, in addition to politeness, there is also a kind of self-control, self-restriction.

Why do we need to use words like these? It is because the emotion is a very delicate matter. It is necessary to cover the very fine points in order to adjust our emotion. A normal Christian is not like a wooden man. Rather, he is full of emotions, always has a joyful countenance toward others, and is moderate, sound, refined, respectful and polite, self-restrained and self-controlled.

Sometimes you may come across a brother or sister who demonstrates no emotions. He never laughs or cries. This kind of person is like a piece of ice or stone. He is neither temperate nor restrained. On other occasions you may meet a brother or sister whose emotions are disorderly and unruly, like the uncombed hair in the morning. Both his laughing and crying are a mess—neither temperate, restrained, nor cultured. Such emotions are great frustrations to our prayers. If we wish to learn to pray, we need to learn these lessons concerning the emotion.


Tranquility of emotion means that the emotion is able to remain calm. To be tranquil means to be serene; the two are almost synonymous. It is very easy for one who is emotional to be boiling in his emotions; hence, he must learn to calm his emotions. To be tranquil in this sense does not mean to be quiet; rather, it means to be calm or settled. For example, with some, once they hear some joyful news they become too excited and can no longer pray. Not only can they no longer pray, but they cannot even sit still inside the house. This means they do not have a calm emotion. Some are not able to pray after losing their temper or getting angry; this also indicates a disturbed emotion.

We often think that we are unable to pray because our mind has been disturbed. Actually, it is easy to overcome the disturbance of the mind. If we can maintain a tranquil emotion, we will not be affected even though someone beside us may say something. But once our emotion is stirred up, it will be very difficult for us to get into our spirit to pray. Sometimes this may continue for days before we can pray again.

A disturbed emotion will adversely affect our prayer life. When some are happy, they will cry and laugh in their prayer and even forget about eating. But when they become unhappy, they can stop praying for one week. Their prayer life is unpredictable, being entirely under the control of their emotion. Such a one whose emotion is not tranquil cannot pray. Hence, we need to exercise to be tranquil.

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