V. THE SPIRIT MUST BE BUOYANT
A fresh spirit is surely a buoyant spirit. If you do not have regular dealings before the Lord, your spirit cannot be fresh. A spirit that is not fresh is invariably depressed and is definitely unable to pray. Even if by the exercise of your will you force yourself to utter some words, or you use your mind to think of something to say, it is still futile. Therefore, whether you can pray and how much you can pray depend upon whether your spirit is depressed or buoyant. This is a real test.
VI. THE SPIRIT MUST BE LIVELY
That which is pure is fresh, that which is fresh is buoyant, and that which is buoyant surely is lively. Only such a spirit can pray. The moment you open your mouth others can sense whether or not the spirit in you is leaping and living. By contrast, you may have heard a brother pray and felt that his prayer was dead. Although he prayed, his spirit did not move. It was neither living nor released, but dead. It is not possible for such a spirit to pray. Thus, in order to be able to pray, the spirit must be lively, full of vitality.
VII. THE SPIRIT MUST BE FREE
Freedom means having no bondage or anxiety. Once you are anxious over a certain matter you cannot pray. You keep worrying about your son who is studying abroad, your wife who is being treated in the hospital, and your business that is not making money. Since your spirit is bound by these many things it cannot be free, and you are thus unable to pray. Even these good things can cause your spirit to be bound. On the other hand, there are still some whose spirits are captured by the theater, being bound by the movies. Thus, the spirit is bound and unable to pray. To the extent that our spirit is not freed from everything that is outside God there is no way for us to pray. Therefore, one who wishes to learn how to pray must exercise his spirit, making it able to be independent at all times—bound neither by the attraction of that which is good nor by that which is bad. Regardless how difficult, how heavy, or how troublesome the matter may be, your spirit can remain free and unbothered. A spirit that can pray is one that is not bound and entangled but is transcendent and free.
VIII. THE SPIRIT MUST BE LIGHT AND EASY
The spirit must not only be free; it must also be easy. When praying, you must learn not to bear burdens that are too heavy. One who is heavy-laden can never pray. True, the spirit should not be lazy, but neither should it be overloaded. Freedom means to have no bondage; whereas, easiness means to have no heavy burden. Freedom means to get out of all entanglements that are outside God; whereas easiness means to not bear too heavy a burden in the spirit. For example, you may go before God today to pray for two matters and be able to pray very well. However, if you bear five things with you while you pray, you cannot pray well, because the things, being too many and too heavy, have caused your spirit to become completely worn out. It is just like an ordinary person who may be able to walk well when he is carrying a fifty-pound load, but who is not able to walk if he is bearing a five-hundred-pound load.
Therefore, in prayer, we need to guard against laziness in our spirit. However, at the same time we need to prevent our spirit from being over diligent and taking too heavy a load, thus falling into uneasiness. We need to maintain a balanced spirit which is neither lazy nor overdiligent. Take only the burden that you can bear, so that your spirit will be light. This should be our attitude in prayer.
Of course, there are times when burdens would press us into fasting and prayer, but that is another matter. In ordinary times, we need to allow our spirit to feel at ease and not be pressed continually. A spirit that is not free cannot pray; neither can a spirit that is not light pray well. One who prays well always exercises his spirit, keeping it free and light.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)