THE NEED FOR A PRIVATE TIME OF PRAYER
Because the building is the growth in life, it is important that we know how to grow in life. In this message I have the burden to share about this matter in a very practical way. Throughout the years, we have greatly emphasized, perhaps over-emphasized, the corporate aspect of the Christian life. We have laid great stress upon coming together to meet, to pray, and to read the Word. However, I am concerned that many, especially the young people in corporate living situations, do not have a private time of prayer. They have only the corporate prayer. I admit that no private time of prayer can replace the corporate time. The blessing, help, and life we receive in the meetings cannot be found elsewhere. Nevertheless, we need to remember that in the things pertaining to life there are always two aspects. In the Christian life there is the individual side and the corporate side, and neither can replace the other. We must have both. Furthermore, these two sides should be evenly balanced.
Among us there is a shortage in the matter of having a private time to contact the Lord. Many simply do not have a private prayer life. Most of the brothers and sisters who are over forty-five or fifty do have such a private prayer life. But most of the younger brothers and sisters, especially those in corporate living, do not. I am very concerned about this, for it is a matter that affects their growth in life. If you do not go to the Lord directly and privately by yourself, your dealing with the Lord will not be very practical or detailed.
Ephesians, a book that presents such a high vision concerning the church, also encourages us to pray. In chapter one Paul gives us the vision concerning God’s well-speaking that produces the church. But there must be the prayer to follow this vision. Hence, Paul prayed that we would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Without prayer, the vision is not adequate. Many of us have seen the vision of God’s purpose concerning the church. But we also need to pray, both corporately and individually.
We all need to have a private time with the Lord. This needs to be built up into a daily habit. The best time for such a private time with the Lord is in the morning. Some who leave for work very early, however, may need to choose another time of the day. Nevertheless, we all need to set aside time for the Lord daily, preferably at least thirty minutes.
During this time, you should go to the Lord and pray, not for so many affairs or business matters, but to contact the Lord, asking Him to examine you, to enlighten you, and to expose your situation in His light. As the Lord enlightens you, you will need to confess one item after another. When we do not come to the light, we do not see the uncleanness, especially the offenses on our conscience. But when we are enlightened, we are aware of all the dirt. We need to confess everything exposed by the Lord’s light. Once I made a confession to the Lord that lasted more than two hours. The more I confessed, the more I needed to confess. After I confessed one thing, I had to confess another, and then another. To confess is the best way to contact the Lord in prayer for the genuine growth in life. The more we are dealt with by the Lord, the more He will be wrought into our being. This is what it means to grow.
In order to grow, we must firstly contact the Lord in our time of private prayer. I encourage all the saints, especially the young people, to build up such a habit. Every day you must have a time of prayer. Sometimes you may pray for the church or for the Lord’s recovery, if you are burdened to do so. You may also pray concerning your affairs. But the primary matter is to pray for the Lord’s enlightenment, exposing, and examining. Ask the Lord to show you what is within you and ask Him to deal with you. You should say, “Lord, expose through Your light my real situation and condition.” If you pray like this, the light will come, and you will be dealt with. Then whatever you pray will not be a performance, but a genuine prayer from your cleansed spirit.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)