HENCEFORTH, PAYING MORE ATTENTION
TO THE SPIRIT THAN TO THE OBJECTIVE WORD
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, our eyes need to be opened that henceforth, although we should not neglect the word, we must pay more attention to the Spirit. Of course, we need a certain amount of speaking in order to make clear the matter concerning the Spirit, but we absolutely must not speak empty, spiritual theories. Instead, we must pay attention to the reality of the Spirit. From now on, in our service, our work, and our preaching, we must help people to know the Spirit, the breath, and to learn to breathe in more of this breath. I hope that henceforth, among us, we will not take the objective word as our center. When people come into our midst, it should not be for listening to the objective word but for breathing the Lord with their spirit. When people come into our midst, their feeling, inclination, and desire should not be that they come because there are good messages here. Rather, they come because there is fresh air here. Gradually, Christians should have an impression of us that although the messages we preach are good, our focus is not the objective word but the spirit with a spiritual atmosphere. We look to the Lord for His mercy that the churches will all arrive at this goal. In every locality, when the brothers and sisters come together, whether to have a big meeting or a small fellowship, the impression we give others should not be that we are studying the Bible, preaching the word, listening to the preaching, or researching a doctrine. Rather, there should be a certain kind of atmosphere, a certain kind of spirit, that enables others to breathe God and to gain God.
I hope that the brothers and sisters will see that, from now on, in our studying of the word, we should not care too much about studying the doctrines. Instead, we should absorb, breathe in, the Spirit from the word. Every time we release a message, the impression we give people should be the release of the Spirit more than the release of the objective word. From now on, the way of our service should not be like our former way of preaching the word. We still need the preaching of the word, but not all preachings are the same. Until now the emphasis in our preaching has been on the objective word, but from now on it should be on the spirit. Until now our emphasis has been on the speaking, without necessarily releasing the spirit. From now on, however, whenever we open our mouth to speak, there must be the release of the spirit. Moreover, whatever we speak is not hollow, theoretical, or doctrinal. Instead, we should present the real things before others, and in our presentation our spirit must also go forth to touch their spirit. Hence, we must completely change the way of our preaching. In our preaching of the word, we have always put more emphasis on the objective word than on the spirit, but from now on, the way we deliver the word should be by the spirit. Our intention should not be for people to listen to a message. Instead, whenever we speak, we should give them an atmosphere of the spirit. They should have the feeling that although we have delivered a good message, the impression we have given them is that our emphasis is not on the objective word but on the spirit.
We hope that from now on the emphasis of our preaching in every locality will not be on giving a message for people to listen to. Instead, our emphasis will be to introduce spiritual life and reality to people through the word and to show them the way to contact this spiritual life and reality so that they can touch it in their spirit. Therefore, we surely must learn to exercise our spirit in our daily life. I say again, pray-reading is most helpful. We must exercise our spirit. In this way, when we speak, instead of speaking empty teachings, we speak the reality which we have experienced, and we also point out this way to people. Furthermore, in all our meetings, including even the meetings for the preaching of the word, there should be sufficient prayer before and after each meeting. We definitely must help the brothers and sisters in the matter of the spirit, and we must avoid being too ritualistic or formal in the meetings. In fact, even if there are over a hundred people in a meeting, there still is no need to have a platform for speaking. Do not be too formal. We must help the brothers and sisters to have an atmosphere in which they pray much and their spirits are living.
Pray-reading started in Taiwan, but it has also been picked up by the church in Los Angeles, and I heard that it is being practiced there even more intensely than here in Taiwan. Recently, I received a letter from some of the saints there, telling me that now they no longer preach a message on the Lord’s Day morning; instead, it is all pray-reading. They also said that they are even preaching the gospel by pray-reading and that the attendance has increased and many have been saved. Not only so, the practice of pray-reading has a good influence even on the offering of material things.
I am not introducing a method here. What I am saying is that today we must see clearly that in our service to the Lord we cannot rely only on the preaching of the word or on any fixed practice. We ourselves must have good fellowship with the Lord regularly, and our spirit must be living and fresh. This is our capital. Then when we come to any meeting, we should not use any form to bind people. Everyone’s spirit must be released so that when people come to our meetings they will be able to touch something that is not a doctrine but the living Spirit. The rituals are gone, yet no one acts disorderly. When people come in, they must touch the spirit. The Lord is with our spirit, and our spirit releases the Lord’s Spirit. Although we have the word, the word is simply an explanation that enables people to breathe in and touch the fresh air from heaven. Everyone who comes into our meeting will touch the fresh air. This is something that will help people throughout their entire life.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)