MAKING THE CHURCH IN OUR LOCALITY A PRAYING CHURCH
We should learn these practical matters and practice them in our prayer, especially in the corporate prayer. We need to consecrate, confess, and pray according to the inner anointing. We should never try to touch others through our prayer but simply let the Lord touch them directly. Then something new will come out. The leading ones especially must pray much, even more than others, and they must help others to have a real prayer life. They should help all the brothers to pray, one by one. The problem today is that when we have a message meeting, many people come, but when there is a prayer meeting, only one-third of the saints come. It is as if some say, “If there is a message, I will come, but if it is only prayer, I will stay home and rest.” In some denominations, it is possible that only three people come to the prayer meeting: the pastor, his wife, and the custodian. Then when they sing a hymn, the pastor plays the piano, the wife leads the singing, and the custodian follows. I have seen such a situation. In some places, only two of the five leading ones come to the prayer meeting, while the other three stay away. With only a few in the prayer meeting, that church is the weakest one. The normal condition, however, is that there are more in the prayer meeting than in the other meetings. If when the church has a prayer meeting, all the believers come, that church will be the most prevailing. It will be a living church. We should pray by ourselves and help others to pray. We must make the church in our locality a praying church. Take this word and try to practice it. Then we will see the difficulties, on the one hand, but on the other hand, we will see the blessing.
To start this kind of prayer is not easy for several reasons. One is that the enemy would never willinglys allow the church to practice this kind of prayer. Therefore, we must be patient to fight the battle. To be sure, we must pray. If we cannot get through, we should fast, and we may even need to spend a night without sleep in order to pray through. If we pray in this way, we will see how much the Lord will come in. We should not forget how the disciples came to the Lord concerning an epileptic demon, asking, “Why were we not able to cast it out?” The Lord answered, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:19, 21).
Prayer is not simple. In this universe there is not only the physical world; there is also a spiritual world. Evil spiritual forces are always fighting, hindering, and frustrating the Lord’s work. We must have prayer to face the situation and fight the battle. We cannot build up a church merely by teaching doctrines. Even in gospel preaching, we cannot merely preach to bring people to the Lord. We need to pray to fight the battle against the wiles of the strong man so that the Lord will bind the strong man and all the souls in his hand will be released. This can be carried out only by prevailing prayer, not by teaching or preaching alone.
May we all be impressed with this. This message is not merely a lesson in a classroom. Rather, this is a spiritual training for us to learn the way of the Lord. I look to the Lord concerning this, and I declare that my heart is absolutely with the Lord concerning this matter. May the Lord impress us, more than with any other matter, that we must go to Him to pray for the practice of the church life.
(Basic Principles for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)