Lessons on Prayer, by Witness Lee

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Once there is consciousness in the spirit, it is necessary for the mind to interpret it. The consciousness in the spirit is usually very fine. Therefore, in order that the mind might be able to interpret it, it is necessary that one pay attention to the foregoing eight items: (1) to be renewed, (2) sober, (3) concentrating, (4) still, (5) minding the things of the spirit, (6) ruled by the spirit, (7) having a mind of the spirit, and (8) filling the mind with the elements of the spirit. At this point the mind can understand the spiritual burden and interpret the spiritual sense.

For example, in a prayer meeting, you have a burden to pray, yet you are not clear how to pray. This means you do not know the meaning of that particular burden, and there are not enough elements of the spirit in your mind. But if at this particular time your mind is spiritual, having been trained, immediately you can comprehend and express the burden adequately. The same principle applies to the ministry of the Word. I may have a burden to speak a word to the brothers and sisters, but it requires the cooperation of and the interpretation by the mind in order to find out the meaning of the particular burden and sense in the spirit.

All good prayers come about by first having the consciousness and burden in the spirit. We must have a very sharp mind which is capable of fully expressing that spiritual consciousness with very fine words and rich thoughts. Some brothers and sisters are full of feeling within and rich in spiritual sense, yet their mind cannot interpret. All they can do is shout a great deal and weep or laugh. They have the feeling and the burden, but their mind is inadequate.

Around 1947, the meetings in Shanghai had begun to undergo a revival. During a breaking-bread meeting on one Lord’s day afternoon, a brother who was a native of southern Fookien was inspired and prayed with his native tongue to express the inspiration within. While listening, although I was not able to understand too well, I could tell that even in his native dialect he could not adequately express the inspiration within. So, he simply turned red, his body shook, and his eyes shed tears. The whole congregation was aware that he had the feelings, but unfortunately, due to the lack of the cooperation of the mind, he did not have the appropriate words to express them. If his mind had been trained, and he could have spoken either Mandarin or Shanghainese, using rich words to pour out all the feeling within, I believe that the whole meeting would have exploded. However, it was regrettable that because his untrained mind could not interpret what was within him, it could not explode to the outside. Therefore, brothers, if we wish to pray properly, we need to exercise so that our mind will be able to match and interpret the feelings in our spirit. This is essential.


The mind must not only be able to interpret the consciousness in the spirit, but it also needs to have the words to express that consciousness. This is the matter of utterance. Those who have acted as interpreters know that this is not easy. To be able to comprehend and express the consciousness in the spirit immediately is not easy. Sometimes we have understood what is in our spirit, but we were unable to express it. At another time, we have expressed it yet others could not understand it. The proper understanding and expression require exercise. Paul asked the saints to pray on his behalf that utterance would be given unto him (Eph. 6:19). The utterance Paul was referring to was not a fluency or eloquence of speech in ordinary conversation, but the ability to express the feelings that were within him. Such utterance is related to the mind.

There are some brothers whose minds have been trained in this way. When they pray with several others they are not only able to express the feelings within themselves, but also the feelings within everyone else. Hence, when they pray, once the words come forth everyone feels released, for the prayer of such a one has released everyone’s spirits. But if someone who has not been trained in his mind prays, the more he prays, the more others are uncomfortable and even smothered within. They feel most miserable. The more he prays the more the spirits of others are frustrated; for his mind, not having been trained, is unable to find a suitable expression. Therefore, if you wish to pray well it is absolutely necessary that you train your mind. Train yourself so that your mind can comprehend the consciousness in the spirit and find the right utterance to express it instantly.


When you have all the above points you can pray with your mind. First Corinthians 14:15 calls this “praying with the understanding.” The word “understanding” there has the same root as the word “mind.” The understanding is the mind. To pray with the spirit refers to speaking in tongues, which does not need to pass through the mind. But the Apostle Paul said that, in the church, that kind of prayer is not as valuable as praying with the understanding, for the former cannot be understood by others, but the latter can. Therefore, in order to have prayers that can utter and express the feelings within—the prayers of the mind—your mind must be trained in the above points. The prayer of the mind is not only expressed from the mind, but even more it comes forth from the spirit, passing through the interpretation of the mind, and then is uttered as prayer.

(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)