The Experience of Christ, by Witness Lee

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In order to be healthy, we need to keep four legalities: eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping. Although Christians often condemn legality, we need to be legal about these things. In so many other things we should not be legal, but when it comes to eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping, we must be legal. In like manner, rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in all things are legalities. When some brothers hear this, they may say, "Brother Lee, I cannot thank the Lord for a wife such as mine. You don’t know how bad she is. If you had such a wife, you would sympathize with me." However, no matter what kind of wife a brother has, he must rejoice and give thanks in everything. Each of us must do this for himself. Just as we cannot eat, drink, or breathe for others, so we cannot pray, rejoice, or give thanks for others.

An incident that took place in my hometown years ago illustrates this. A certain sister became deceived; she decided to give up eating and pray all day long. We tried our best to convince her to eat, telling her that we were concerned that she would die if she continued to go without eating. However, she still refused to eat. She had a good heart to pray for the church and for the saints. But because she would not eat, she eventually died. We could do many things for her, but we could not eat for her. Eating is a legality that we all must keep for ourselves. In like manner, if you do not pray, rejoice, or give thanks, I do not know what to do for you. The best thing I can do is to ask the Lord to make you willing to pray, to rejoice, and to give thanks.

I believe, however, that the saints are willing to pray, to rejoice, and to give thanks. Concerning rejoicing, we must practice, not rejoicing occasionally, but rejoicing always. The same is true regarding prayer. We should not pray just once in a while, but unceasingly. What breathing is to our physical life, prayer is to our spiritual life. Breathing is more necessary than eating, drinking, or sleeping. Praying must be first in our spiritual life. We must breathe by praying unceasingly. There is no need for us to be alone in our room in order to pray. While we are speaking, listening, or busy with other things, we can pray. In everything we do, we are able to breathe. Medical science has learned that breathing deeply is a great help to our health. Regarding our spiritual breathing, we should not pray in a shallow way, but pray from the depths of our being. When we pray like this, we stir up our spirit and fan the fire within us. Then we shall rejoice and give thanks to the Lord. If we do these three things, the indwelling Spirit within us will be burning. By this burning Spirit within, we shall be willing to remain in death and to keep the flesh, the self, and the natural life on the cross. This experience of death will usher in resurrection.

As we have pointed out, death is the gateway into resurrection. The deeper we go into death, the greater will be our experience of resurrection. When we have an outstanding death, we shall also have an outstanding resurrection. The way to have such an outstanding death is to rejoice always, to pray unceasingly, and to give thanks in everything. When we do these things, we are in Him and in His resurrection. In Philippians 3 Paul speaks of knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection. Here Christ equals the power of resurrection. When we are in Him, we are in the power of resurrection. In the power of resurrection we can do all things. This is the experience of Christ recorded in the book of Philippians. In chapter one Paul speaks of Christ being magnified in him, whether by death or by life, and in chapter four he says that he can do all things in the One who empowers him. The way to be in the empowering One is to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. If we do these things, the Spirit will work out the experience of death, and this death will bring us into resurrection. Eventually, we shall arrive at the outstanding resurrection from among the dead.

(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)