O LORD, AMEN, HALLELUJAH
We love to say the four words O Lord, Amen, Hallelujah! In the verses from Revelation, we have seen Amen and Hallelujah. Where then can we find O Lord? This is in the Psalms. In many pages of the Psalms, it is so easy to find O Lord. Therefore, these four words are not something we have invented but something we have discovered in the Word. When reading the Psalms in the past, we may have entirely passed over these two little words O Lord. If we use these two words and pray-read the Psalms again, it will be a new book.
The last five psalms, Psalms 146—150, all begin and end with Hallelujah. This means “Praise the Lord.” Therefore, these five Psalms are called the Hallelujah Psalms. Every psalm begins with Hallelujah and ends with Hallelujah. So, in the Psalms we have O Lord and Hallelujah. We all must exercise ourselves to say these four words: O Lord, Amen, Hallelujah!
THE NEED OF PRACTICE
In learning to do anything, a certain amount of practice is necessary. At the beginning it is not so convenient, but by practice we gradually learn how to do it. I believe that we will gradually learn how to pray-read the Word in a better way. We are still at the beginning. If you regulate anything at the beginning, you will kill it. We must let it grow. When a little plant grows, you should not touch it too much. If you regulate it, you will kill it. But you should gradually adjust it a little. In the same way, our pray-reading of the Word will gradually need a little adjustment.
For instance, sometimes we do not take care of others when pray-reading in the meetings. We all say something at the same time. At other times everybody stops. Thus, we lack balance. This is because our technique is not yet so adequate. We have not practiced enough so that we have a balanced and coordinated pray-reading. We may have a living pray-reading but not a balanced and coordinated pray-reading.
We need practice, but we must not regulate too much. Do not make a form out of anything. We are living persons with some regulations yet with nothing formal. We need to acquire some skill and technique. Sometimes basketball players who are well coordinated play slowly and then suddenly play very quickly. In the same way, we may pray-read quickly and then slow down a little. Sometimes we may pray-read loudly and then silently, and sometimes we may have the leading of the Lord to all read together and say Amen. The main thing is practice. It takes practice to be perfect.
Another thing we have learned from our experience in pray-reading is that at the beginning all may pray together at the same time for about two minutes. This is like the sound of many waters, the voice of mighty thundering. But after two or three minutes, we should pray-read one by one. Then when we hit a strategic point, everybody may pray-read together loudly, but after a few minutes, all the voices will calm down again to pray-read one by one. It is similar to playing the piano: not every key is struck at the same time. Some are struck softly while others are struck loudly. This makes beautiful music. Our pray-reading should be like this. In the beginning we all pray together, but gradually we pray-read one by one until we reach a crescendo. This requires coordination. There are no regulations, but we all need to practice.
THE BALANCE OF THE SPIRIT AND THE SOUL
This does not mean that we do not need the teaching of the Word, but it is more important that the spirit of all the saints be released and nourished. The messages are mostly to open our understanding. This is helpful, but it does not nourish and feed the spirit as much as pray-reading. We need the feeding, the releasing, and the stirring up of the spirit. In every meeting, we must first release and feed the spirit of the saints. Subsequently, we may have some message from the Lord to open our understanding. We not only have a spirit but also a soul; hence, for the spirit we need the pray-reading, and for the soul we need the understanding to be opened to the Word. This is the right way to be balanced. I do not mean that we do not need any solid and living teaching, but teachings alone are not adequate.
Why do we always say that it is not teachings we need but the Spirit? We say this because Christianity stresses teaching too much and neglects the feeding and nourishing of the spirit. Everyone can pray-read, but not everyone is a teacher. Some have the teaching gift, but most do not. Even a short message cannot be given by just anyone; yet everyone can pray-read. The whole congregation must pray-read. By doing this, the priesthood in the church will be greatly helped and strengthened.
THE WEAKER VESSELS
There is another matter regarding the pray-reading that must be mentioned. That is, the sisters must exercise a little boldness. Because the brothers are bold, it is rather difficult for the sisters to get a chance to pray-read. I noticed that in the sisters’ meetings there is no problem. The sisters are bold in that kind of meeting, but in the regular meetings of the church, the sisters must be more bold and enter quickly into the pray-reading. The brothers, however, must sympathize with the weaker vessels and share the time with them. But the brothers must not wait too long; otherwise, the meeting will be deadened. We all must learn to “season” the meeting. Of course, this requires practice.
I believe that the Lord as the living Spirit will lead us in many ways. Henceforth, we are in the stage of the Spirit. We must give up our background, leave all the old ways, and follow the life-giving Spirit. He is so living; He is ever fresh and ever new. This will cause a real release of the spirit in the function of our meetings.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)