CARING THE MOST FOR THE EXERCISE OF THE SPIRIT
In this message we have clearly seen that the word of God is the breath of God as food and drink to us. We have to learn how to take the breath of God by exercising our spirit. The way to exercise our spirit is to transform what we understand from our reading into prayer. Then as we are open to the Holy Spirit, He will grant us many new experiences and new utterances. Many times when we pray in this way, it is easy to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If we do this, we will have a feast, a rich nourishment. If we have the time, we can try this a second time in the day and have another meal. However, we should at least have one meal a day. Forget the old way to read the word. Take this new way of practice. Do not care for your concordance; just take the word in a simple way. Open the Bible. Go book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse without skipping. Just keep reading. Then when you understand something, put it into prayer. Do not care for how long it will take. Simply pray and let the Holy Spirit have the free way to get into you. Do not make a regulation that you must understand a certain number of items each morning. Simply open yourself very much to the Lord and leave the understanding to Him. Try to learn this way.
Concerning whether or not we should pray aloud, I would not make a regulation. What we do depends on two things, the Holy Spirit within and the environment without. If the Holy Spirit leads us to jump, we have to jump. If the Holy Spirit leads us to shout, we have to shout, if the environment allows. If we shout too loudly, though, we may be thrown out of our apartment. That is not right.
With everything in the universe, however, there is a principle, a natural law. In principle, it is hard for a person to pray with no voice. It is hard to maintain a silent prayer. At least it is hard for me; I have to utter something with my voice. In order to keep ourselves in prayer, we may have to utter something. I say again, however, do not make a regulation. It depends on the Holy Spirit. If we are open to the Lord, the Holy Spirit will lead us to release our spirit, and if the environment permits, He will lead us to pray loudly. The most important thing, though, is to read, understand something, and pray.
We have three parts: a body, a soul, and a spirit. Especially in reading, we must exercise all three parts. We use our body with our eyes to read, our soul with the mind to understand, and our spirit to pray. Most Christians only go so far as to read and understand. Eventually they are killed, and they kill others. Because they know so much, they are condemned, and they condemn others. The more we read the Bible in this way, the more we know how to condemn others. Because we receive the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our eyes are opened. This is good for killing others, condemning others, and criticizing others. When we come to the message meeting and a brother turns to Genesis 2, we may say, “I know. He will talk about the two trees.” This is because we have the knowledge. Then we will listen with a criticizing spirit; we will be killed, we will kill others, and we will spread much death. We have to break through this limitation. We have to get into the spirit, not merely to read and understand but to pray.
We should exercise our eyes a little to read the black and white letters. Spontaneously there will be no need to exercise our mind. Our mind is too exercised already; it is too active. Even when we sleep, our mind is still working in our many dreams. We are good dreamers who exercise our mind too much. There is no need to exercise our mind, because when we read, we will spontaneously understand something. However, we must pay our full attention to the exercise of the spirit though prayer.
Learn this new way. Then the Bible will be living to you. It will be a book of life and the real tree of life. Day by day we will sit under the shadow of this tree and enjoy all its fruits. We will not be killed, and we will not kill others. Neither will we be condemned, nor will we condemn others. Rather, we will be nourished, so we will be able to nourish others. Learn to read the word in this way. If we all would practice this kind of reading, the church will be very enriched, strengthened, and built up. We will be so rich to nourish others. We will have the life nourishment without the dead knowledge of letters. May the Lord be merciful to us and deliver us from seeking the knowledge of letters, that we may take the word as the nourishment of life. I would ask you to take this and put it into practice.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)