Lessons on Prayer, by Witness Lee

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One cannot pray if his spirit has no rest and is always in turmoil. When hearing joyful or sorrowful news, some get very excited in their spirit and cannot calm down. This stimulation, which results from either joy or sorrow, can make one unable to pray. Therefore, we must train ourselves so that whether a situation we encounter is happy or sad, our spirit will not be too excited or stirred up. A spirit cannot pray if it is restless or in turmoil.

Seriously speaking, if we are well-trained to pray then we have learned a great deal before the Lord. If the organs of our body need exercise in order to be useful, then, much more, our spirit needs to be exercised in order to function. Prayer requires learning the lessons—especially the lesson of the proper exercise of the spirit. If you can always maintain a calm and peaceful spirit in any situation or circumstance and with anyone, then you can pray.


A spirit of prayer is also an open spirit. Once the spirit is closed it cannot pray. The spirit should be open toward God, toward the brothers and sisters, and also toward others. But this does not mean that our spirit is never closed. Sometimes it needs to be closed. Our spirit should be able to close as well as open. This is just like a proper and frequently-used door which opens and closes flexibly according to the need. However, some doors are not frequently used and, therefore, are difficult to open and close. It is hard to open them, and once they are opened, they cannot be closed. With respect to their spirit, some brothers and sisters are just like this. Such a person cannot pray. In order to pray, the spirit must have the ability to open and close with flexibility. It should be able at any time to open toward God and men. When it should be closed, it should do so automatically. A spirit that opens and closes properly is an open spirit. Within a brief space of time it may open and close several times.

When one whose spirit opens freely contacts others and talks to them, after only one or two sentences, his spirit opens. This in turn causes the spirit of the others to also open. Only someone with such a spirit is able to lead people to salvation and to render help to others. Sometimes a brother may speak to someone for ten minutes. If the brother’s spirit is not open, whatever he would speak or pray is vain. Thus, in order to have a proper prayer, the spirit must be open.


To be transcendent means to be risen above the different parts of the soul—mind, emotion, and will—and not to be under their control. A spirit that is transcendent is able to pray normally, and at the same time, it is able to be released to the degree that it ought. If you allow the various parts of your soul to dominate your spirit even a little, you are defeated in prayer. Thus, in prayer always allow the spirit to transcend everything. You need to allow your spirit to be both the strongest and the highest part of your being. You are then a man of prayer.


Our spirit should not be buoyant and transcendent one day and depressed the next day. Neither should it be so free this minute and so bound the next minute. Stability of the spirit means that the spirit is not affected by any circumstance but is always steadfast before the Lord.

The weather in Taiwan fluctuates a great deal. It may be calm and windless in the morning, and yet a typhoon may come in the evening. You may need a sweater in the morning but only a shirt at noon. This is instability. Such are the spirits of some of the brothers and sisters. Yesterday your fellowship with a certain brother was wonderful and the prayer was excellent. However, today when you see him his whole being is collapsed, and he has become helpless. Such an unstable person cannot pray. In order to pray the spirit must remain balanced and stable: free, yet stable; transcendent, yet stable; buoyant, yet stable. We need to be exercised that our spirits may manifest these characteristics.

(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)