III. THE SPIRIT MUST BE PURE
Strictly speaking, the spirit itself is not easily defiled. Any uncleanness of the spirit is due to its being contaminated by the soul and body while passing through them to come forth. For example, if your mind is defiled, when your spirit passes through the mind to come forth, the defilement of your mind becomes the defilement of your spirit. If your emotion is unclean, when your spirit comes forth it will surely be contaminated with the uncleanness of the emotion. If your will is improper, when your spirit comes forth, it also becomes an improper spirit. For example, water may be very pure at its source, but if it passes through some material containing sulfur it will pick up some sulfuric element and eventually flow out as sulfuric water. Just so, it is not easy for the spirit to have contamination of itself. Rather, the defilement of the spirit is usually the result of the spirit’s passing through our being.
Hence, in order for the spirit to be pure, man’s mind, emotion, and will must be pure. One who has a peculiar mind will surely evidence a peculiar spirit. If one is very emotional and does not know how to control his passion—pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy—when his spirit moves, it is unstable and uncontrollable. You may say that is something of the spirit. Yes, it may be so; for at that time elements of the emotions have been mixed with the spirit. But, strictly speaking, it is still not the spirit itself; rather, it is something of the emotion that has been mixed with the spirit. Someone may have a very obstinate and stubborn will. When his spirit comes forth, it will certainly be an obstinate and stubborn spirit. This is inevitable. Whatever kind of person you are, it is easy for your spirit to bear that flavor. If your faculties are not pure, your spirit will also be impure. In order that the spirit might be pure, the person himself must be pure. When the spirit of one who hates comes forth, his spirit expresses that hatred. So it is with one whose thought is unclean. When his spirit comes forth it will inevitably be unclean.
Once your spirit is impure you will have a bad conscience, and once you have a bad conscience your spirit will suffer total bankruptcy. It is not possible for such a spirit to pray. Thus, in order to have a spirit of prayer, the primary requirement is that you be a pure person. When one is pure, then his spirit is pure. Only one who has a pure spirit can have a good conscience. A good conscience will enable him to be strengthened in spirit and become a man of prayer.
IV. THE SPIRIT MUST BE FRESH, NOT OLD AND STALE
Many times in the prayer meeting or at the Lord’s table, a brother or sister may have stood up to pray and made you feel that his spirit was very old. Every time such a one prays, although he may be chronologically young, you have a sense within that his spirit is old. And since it is old, it is stale. An old, stale spirit cannot pray.
A spirit of prayer is a fresh spirit. Such were the spirits of men of prayer in the Scripture. For example, Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel, and Abraham were all men of prayer. And when you read their prayers, you can sense the freshness of their spirit. Some confessed their sins, while others repented deeply before God. Take, for example, Psalm 51, which is David’s prayer of confession. In that psalm he was full of repentance and under a deep sense of condemnation, yet you still can sense that his spirit was fresh.
Please remember, a fresh spirit comes from a pure spirit. Every fresh spirit, therefore, is the result of many severe dealings before God. The more the dealings, the fresher the spirit. The reason a brother’s or sister’s spirit of prayer is stale is because he has not had any dealings with God for a long time. This is just like walking into a room that has not been cleaned for a month: immediately you feel everything is old and stale. But go and observe the Japanese homes. Many of the Japanese clean and wash their houses within and without almost every morning. When you go into such a house, or just walk past the door, you can feel the freshness.
Without dealings, there is staleness; with dealings, there is freshness. To this day you and I are still in the old creation. We still live among men of the old creation, and in an unclean, dark age on this corrupt, evil earth. We do not realize how much our spirit has been covered with the dust of this old creation and corrupt age. Even if we don’t get ourselves defiled by it, this dust automatically falls into our being, causing our spirit to become old. Therefore, in order to maintain the purity of our person there must be the daily dealings. When there is the purity, then there is the freshness; when there is the freshness inside, the spirit can pray.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)