EXERCISING THE SPIRIT
TO PRAY-READ THE WORD
The books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians all have a particular emphasis. But if we put these books together, we see five things that are crucial for our experience of Christ: the Word, faith, the Spirit, our spirit, and prayer. If God had not created us with a spirit, we would not be able to receive inspiration from the Word, no matter how many times we may read it or repeat parts of it. The inspiration which comes from the Word is not a matter of emotion. Human words may touch our emotion, but they do not touch our spirit. I studied the classical writings of Confucius, but none of those writings touched my spirit. Certain writings may stir our emotions, but only the Word of God can inspire our spirit. Only one book—the Bible—is able to touch our spirit. According to Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is a sharp sword that even divides soul from spirit.
John 4:24 says that God is Spirit and that those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit. In worshipping God it is best to deal with His Word. But when we read the Word, we should use not only our eyes and our mind, but especially our spirit. When many Christians read the Bible, they just read with their eyes and try to understand with their mentality. They stop short of allowing the Word to touch their spirit. If we want the Word to touch our spirit, we should pray-read the Word.
Before we began to practice pray-reading, I would often pray after reading two or three verses. Having read these verses, I would ask the Lord to make them my experience. Although this practice is helpful, it is not as helpful as pray-reading. In pray-reading the Word, there is no need to wait until we have finished reading before we pray. Instead, we read by praying, mingling our reading with prayer. Then we receive the Word of God by means of all prayer and petition.
Colossians 3:16 charges us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. If we would let the word of Christ dwell in us, we need to receive the Word by means of all prayer. According to the Bible, the ultimate way to receive the Word is to pray it. Let us use Philippians 3:17 as an illustration: "Be imitators together of me, brothers, and observe attentively those who thus walk as you have us for an example." You may be inspired by reading this verse. But only when you pray will this word get into you. How good it is to take such a verse into us by prayer! When we pray-read the Word, the Word does not stay in our mouth, but enters into our inner being. This is to receive the Word by means of prayer. As we pray the Word, the Word enters into the very depths of our being.
As an elderly man with many years of experience, I can testify that the best way to take the Word is by means of all prayer. By praying the Word we drink the living water in the Word. Then this living water fills our inner being and causes us to be nourished and healthy. In 1 Timothy 6:3 and 2 Timothy 1:13 Paul uses the expression "healthy words." When we pray-read the Word, the Word becomes to us the healthy Word. By this healthy Word we experience Christ.
We thank the Lord that He created us with a spirit by which we may drink His Word. But if we would use our spirit to drink the Word, we need to exercise the spirit. The best way to exercise our spirit is to pray. Ephesians 6:17 and 18 say that we should receive the Word of God by means of all prayer, praying at every time in spirit. If we would have the Word, faith, and the Spirit, we need to exercise our spirit by praying. When we walk, we automatically exercise our feet. Likewise, when we pray, we spontaneously exercise our spirit. Paul charges us to pray at every time (Eph. 6:18) and also to persevere in prayer (Col. 4:2). If we want to enjoy the Word and have the Spirit with faith, we must pray by exercising our spirit.
(The Secret of Experiencing Christ, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)