V. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT
The Lord’s word to us comes in two stages. One stage is the words in the Scripture, and the other stage is the words in the Spirit. Colossians says that we should let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. We must believe that this refers to the words in the Scripture. We often encourage the brothers and sisters to saturate themselves with the Scriptures. The reason for this is that we might remember the words of the Lord and thus retain them within us. Then, at a certain time, when the Spirit comes to us, He will express Himself with the Scripture words that we have remembered and retained within us. At this time, these words will become the words of the Spirit.
When we speak of the relationship between prayer and the Lord’s word, it includes these two aspects: the words of the Spirit and the words of the Scripture; or the Lord’s word in the Scripture and the Lord’s word in the Spirit. In reality, these two words are just one. However, if the words in the Scripture do not become the words in the Spirit, then they are words merely in our memory and in our intellect but have not entered into our spirit. It is only when the Spirit comes to mingle with these words that these words become the words in our spirit. This is the relationship between the Word and the Spirit.
VI. RECEIVING THE LORD’S WORD
There are two steps in receiving the Lord’s word. The first is to receive the word of the Bible, and the second is to receive that word explained by the Spirit. Or we may say that first we receive the Lord’s word from the Bible into us, and then we receive the Lord’s word from the Spirit. Without the first step it is very difficult to have the second. Whoever is very poor in receiving the word from the Bible cannot be rich in receiving the word from the Spirit. To obtain the word richly from the Spirit, one needs to receive the word of the Bible richly into himself. Hence, we declare that we need to read the Bible, understand the Bible, and remember its words. This is to allow the words of the Bible to be stored in us richly.
Dear brothers and sisters, not only prayer, but the ministry of the Word also requires this deposit. If one who ministers the Word does not regularly store the words of the Bible within him, his ministry will not be powerful. When others minister on the same topic, the more they minister, the richer they are, and the more words flow out. When you minister, you cannot speak much, because you quickly exhaust your words. What is the reason? It is because you do not have a sufficient deposit inside. Therefore, everyone who ministers must be diligent to read the Bible.
A leading brother once conversed with me about the matter of ministering the Word. He said that there are two prerequisites to a proper ministry. First, there should be the rich, regular, storing of the Word. Second, when the time comes, there should also be the ability to receive instant utterance, burden, and inspiration. After he had told us these two principles he said, “Look at Brother A. When he speaks, you can tell that, although he has the inspiration, there is not enough storage in him to match the inspiration. Then look at Brother B. He really has an adequate supply within him, but he is not able to receive the instant inspiration. As a result, his ministering is very stiff.” That conversation left me with a very deep impression. Truly, a proper, powerful, and living ministry must possess both of these two requirements: sufficient storage, and the ability to receive instant inspiration.
These two steps apply not only to the ministering of the Word, but also to prayer. We really feel sorry for some brothers who always pray the same old words because they neither have the reserve nor the inspiration. What is the reserve? The reserve is the Lord’s word in the Bible having been stored in our being. What is inspiration? Inspiration is the Lord’s word received from the Spirit. Day by day, read the Bible thoroughly, proficiently, and properly. Receive and store it within you. Then when the time comes for you to minister or pray, as the Spirit moves in you, the inspiration will come and mingle with the reserve within you. Once you receive such inspiration, it is hard to say whether it is the word of the Bible or the word of the Spirit. You can say that the word of the Bible is the word of the Spirit and vice versa. At this point, the Word has become spirit. We must, therefore, learn to receive the Lord’s word. Otherwise, we will not know how to minister or how to pray. If we want our ministering to be weighty and our prayers valuable and suitable to God’s heart, then it is absolutely essential that we learn to receive the Lord’s word.
I repeat, there are two steps in the receiving of the Lord’s word. One step is to read the Bible and receive the Lord’s word therein. The other is to be inspired and receive the Lord’s word in the spirit. The former requires the long-term effort of reading the Bible daily, thoroughly, and getting it into you. The latter requires you to be able to receive inspiration at any time. Thus, whenever inspiration comes, you will be able to express it with the words of the Bible which you have received. If you have this ability, then you are able to minister and to pray. First, take in the words of the Bible, then, when inspiration comes, the words will become the words in the spirit. At that time, what you pray forth is prayer, and what you speak forth is ministry.
Read the Scripture well and you will be able to pray well. But this does not mean that simply by being well-versed in the Scriptures you will be able to pray very well. Some really know the Bible by heart. In their prayer, they can quote from Genesis to Revelation. But while listening to their praying, you realize that it is issuing altogether from their dead mind with dead letters, and is not in life at all. This is not what we mean by receiving the word of the Lord. What we mean is that you must daily receive the word of the Bible into you through the Spirit. Then at a certain time, when you receive inspiration, the Holy Spirit will make the words which you received of the Bible, His words. He will interpret and speak them once more into your spirit. Then these words will become spirit, the living word, and the word of life. This is what we mean by receiving the Lord’s word.
VII. THE WORDS BECOMING SPIRIT
We have previously fellowshipped the matter of the spirit becoming the word. Now let us examine the matter of the Word becoming spirit. Words becoming spirit means that the words of the Bible which you have read, or the words of expounding the Bible which you have heard, have become spirit in you. The words which you have received will, at a certain time, become spirit in you. Brothers, please recall your experiences of prayer and you will realize that a good, spiritual prayer is the issue of the Spirit of God mingling with you. You are not reciting the Bible, but rather praying the words with which the Spirit has touched and moved you. What you pray is a mingling of the words of the Bible and of the Spirit. At this point, the words which you have formerly received and stored in you will become the words in the Spirit. This means the words in you have become spirit.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)