Our obstacle in cooperating to speak with the Spirit is our natural man with our disposition and habit. Our natural man, our disposition, and our habit form a deceitful "trinity" that works within us to annul our function and our usefulness. We have sacrificed much and left many things behind to be in the church. However, we may be here in a silent way. This is due to our natural man with our disposition and habit.
Our obstacle in cooperating to speak with the Spirit is seen in our not speaking. In a sense, it is remarkable that some of us have gone for so long without speaking. Our obstacle is also in our fear. We may fear to speak in a meeting because of the presence of certain brothers. Such fear is unnecessary. Our obstacle is also in our concerns and considerations. A brother may be concerned that if he speaks in a certain way, his wife may rebuke him. Quite often our considerations annul our speaking. We should forget about our concerns and considerations and speak regardless of what result there may be.
Our obstacle in cooperating to speak with the Spirit is also in our saving face. We may feel that we should speak only if we can be the top speaker; thus, we refrain from speaking because we do not like to lose face. Our obstacle is also in hesitation. It is also in our not being willing to speak. There may be no problem or consideration keeping us from speaking, but we may simply not be willing to speak.
Even if we overcome all the foregoing factors, our obstacle in cooperating to speak with the Spirit may be in our speaking inaudibly. When we speak inaudibly, it is as if we are not speaking to others but to ourselves. Our obstacle in speaking is also in our speaking loosely. There may be no logic, reason, or purpose in our speaking. Speaking loosely in this way is the same as not speaking at all. When we speak, we must mean business to speak in a logical way.
Our obstacle in cooperating with the Spirit is also in speaking without exercising the spirit. When we speak in a quiet, dull way in the meeting, we are not exercising our spirit. When we speak, we must exercise our spirit. Our obstacle is also in our speaking without spiritual significance. A speaking without any spiritual significance or meaning is empty, like a shell without contents. The contents of our speaking must be something of spiritual significance. Our obstacle in speaking is also in our speaking too long. Even if we do speak in the meeting, our speaking may be annulled by all the foregoing factors. If our speaking is annulled, then there is no proper speaking in the meeting, and the meeting is empty.
The way to overcome our obstacle is to be against our natural man with our disposition and habit. If we are quiet persons, we must be against our natural man with its quietness; that is, we must be against ourselves. The way to overcome our obstacle is also to learn to take the cross. We have been crucified on the cross (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20), and we should remain on the cross.
The way to overcome our obstacle is also to exercise our spirit and to learn how to utter what we want to speak for the Lord. We may have something to speak to others concerning the Lord, but we may not know how to utter it. When this happens, we need to go back home and practice speaking. We may pray, "Lord, I want to learn to speak for You. What word would You give me, and what kind of expression do I need?" We may not speak something for the Lord because we do not know how to speak, but if we do not go back home to learn how to speak, we will not speak the following week either. If we do have something to speak for the Lord, but we do not have the utterance, the expression, or the terminology, we should not treat this lightly. We should spend some time to seek the way to speak and should even fast and pray. If we still cannot learn how to speak what we want to speak, we should go to an experienced brother and ask for help.
Some may feel that learning to speak in this way will take too much time. However, educating a child takes at least eighteen years, and longer if he studies for a college degree, a master’s degree, or a Ph.D. America is a leading country in the world because of its educational system. In this country a child’s education is in several stages: the education at home in his family, the education in his environment in society, and the education in the schools. Likewise, the church people also have a spiritual family and a spiritual environment in the church life, so we should all be educated and should learn constantly. It is not right for anyone to be in the church for many years yet not know how to speak for the Lord in the meetings. The only way to gain the proper utterance to speak for the Lord is to practice and to learn.
(The Practice of Prophesying, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)