Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), by Watchman Nee


We already know that God’s leadings are not always "direct"; rather, some are "indirect." In His direct leading, God’s Spirit moves in our spirit so that we may know His will. We only need to pay attention to the motion in our spirit to know the will of God. However, of all that we should do in our lifetime, not everything will be directly told to us from God. There are many needs which we see. What should we do concerning them? For example, we may be invited to a place to work, or something else may suddenly happen to us. This is not initiated directly from the spirit, but it reaches us through others. Our mind may realize the importance of solving this matter, but our spirit may not be responsive. What should we do to obtain God’s leading? After something happens, we should ask God to lead us in the spirit; this is called indirect leading.

This is the time for the mind to assist the spirit. When there is no stirring in his spirit, a believer should use his mind. If the spirit continuously uttered its intention, it would not be necessary for the mind to assist the spirit. Since, however, the spirit is sometimes silent, the mind has to fill the position of the spirit.

At such a time, the believer should use his mind to consider and ponder his doubts and difficulties before God. Although his prayer, consideration, and pondering all issue from his mind, after a while, the believer will see that his spirit also joins into his prayer, consideration, and pondering. When he senses the spirit, which was previously silent, the Holy Spirit will lead him in the spirit before too long. In this way we can use our mind to assist the spirit. We should not think that something should not be done because the spirit does not move; rather, we should "draw up" our spirit with our mind to make it alive, and let it resolve whether the matter is according to God’s will.


In our spiritual life there are many things that should be done. For this reason, the work of the mind cannot be neglected. Being filled in our spirit is different from the ocean tide coming in and going out at will. To be filled in the spirit, we must fulfill its requirement. This implies that the mind must initiate what the spirit is ready to do but has not yet begun. If we sit and wait for the sense of the spirit, it will never come. Neither should we overemphasize the work of the mind. We should know that only the activities that are done in the spirit have spiritual value; therefore, we should not walk according to the mind. Then why do we use the mind? We use the mind, but it is not the goal. Rather, our purpose is to stir up the spirit to do the work. The spirit must be the one who works. Therefore, the spirt is still very crucial. Employing the mind is simply for stirring up the work of the spirit. Therefore, when we apply the mind to draw up the spirit, if there is neither a response nor an experience of the anointing after a period of time, the work of the mind in that regard should cease and turn in another direction. In spiritual warfare as well, if we have a sense of "void" within us for a long period and no sense of the spirit, we should stop; however, we should not stop simply because of the impatience of our flesh. Although sometimes we are weary, we know that we should continue. At other times we know that we should stop. There is no fixed law.

For the mind to assist the spirit in this way is like priming a mechanical pump. Some pumps require a cup of water to be poured in first in order to create some suction power which draws the water up as we are pumping. The relationship of our mind to the spirit is the same as the cup of water to the pump. If we do not use a cup of water as a starter, water cannot be drawn up; similarly, if we do not initiate with our mind, the spirit will not rise up. If we do not use the mind to initiate prayer, it is like a person who does not pour in a cup of water, and after pumping a couple of times, says that there is no water in the well.

Truly there are differences in the work of our spirit. Sometimes it is as strong as a lion, and sometimes it is as indecisive as a babe. When our spirit is weak and cannot help itself, the mind should act as the spirit’s nursing mother to look after it. The mind cannot replace the spirit, but it can assist the spirit to enliven it. When the spirit descends from its controlling position, the believer should use the power of the mind to pray and raise it up again. Should the spirit sink because of oppression, the believer should use his mind to examine the condition and then pray strongly until the spirit rises up to be liberated again. A spiritual mind can maintain the tranquil position of the spirit. The mind can restrict excessive activities of the spirit and also uplift an excessively depressed spirit.

Simply speaking, our spirit can only be filled again by the activities of our mind (in the spiritual realm). In principle, whatever we have done in the spirit, we should now do with our mind. Then when the Holy Spirit anoints us, it confirms that we are doing it in the spirit. In the beginning of a certain situation, you may not have any sense of the spirit. However, once you acquire the sense of the spirit, this indicates that the spirit wanted to work this way, but it was too weak to do so. Through the assistance of the mind, it is able to express what it previously was unable to express. Whatever we need in the spirit can be obtained by simply considering in our mind and praying. In this way we will be filled in spirit.

Regarding assisting the spirit, another point must be observed: spiritual warfare involves spirit warring with spirit. When our spirit wrestles with the evil spirit, the strength of our entire being is one with the spirit for the battle. The most important part is our mind. The entire strength of the spirit and the mind must be united together for the attack. If the spirit becomes suppressed and loses its strength to resist, the mind should continually fight for the spirit. When the mind fights by praying, resisting, and opposing, the spirit will receive a supply to rise up once again for the battle.


Because the mind can assist the spirit, even though its position is much lower than the spirit, a believer must keep his mind in a normal condition to enable it to search the interpretation of the spirit and assist in any weakness of the spirit. The activities of the spirit are governed by their laws. Likewise, the activities of the mind are governed by their particular laws. When the mind is free to work, the burden is light. Should it become stretched (like one stretches a sling), it cannot work freely. The enemy knows that we need the mind to assist the spirit in order to walk according to the spirit. Therefore, he always presses us, keeping our mind excessively stretched and unable to function normally in order that it will not be able to assist the spirit when it is weak.

Moreover, our mind is not simply an organ to assist the spirit; we also obtain light through it. The Holy Spirit of God gives light to the mind through our spirit. If the mind is exercised excessively, there is no possibility for it to receive light from the Holy Spirit. The evil spirit knows that if our mind is in darkness, our whole being will also be in darkness. Therefore, it endeavors to cause us to think excessively so that we cannot be quieted to work. As a believer walks according to the spirit, he must prohibit his mind from continually turning. Concentrating on one theme, anxiety, sorrow, or overly considering what the will of God is, makes the mind unable to bear the burden and work. Only by maintaining a quiet and peaceful mind can one walk according to the spirit.

Since the mind occupies such an important position, when working with others, a believer must be cautious not to interrupt the thoughts of his brother. Breaking a train of thought can cause the mind to suffer. When the Holy Spirit leads a believer to consider a matter through the spirit, an interruption by others is a very fearful thing. If a thought is interrupted, the mind will be stretched, and consequently, it is harder to work with the spirit. Hence, not only should we keep our mind free, we should also take care of the mind of our brothers. Before speaking to a brother, we should first check the trend of his thought and then speak to him. Otherwise, we will cause him to suffer.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)