III. THE WORK OF THE LIGHT OF LIFE ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE
It is a certainty that the most purified person is the one who can pray the most effectively. If you ask me, “Who are the most purified ones in the universe?” I would reply, “They are those who can pray the most effectively.” The degree of your competency in prayer before God is determined by the degree of your purity. The more competent you are in prayer, the more evident it is that you are living in the light of life.
The light of life working in us always starts on the negative side. It shines and fixes itself upon us, not merely enlightening us on the surface, but much more, penetrating deeply into us. It is as if the light is able to split open our inner parts. This light penetrating into our depths not only exposes every little error in our action and attitude but touches the very root of our being. It touches our motive, our intention, the depths of our spirit, and the very source of all that issues from us. It can reveal whether or not our spirit is calm and pliable. Although we may not be wrong, unclean, or sinful outwardly, we may still be neither calm nor pliable inwardly. Once the light of life shines on these things, they are immediately exposed.
Everyone who truly learns to pray before God must be enlightened, and he must deal with himself severely under such a light. It is in such a light of life that we are able to learn deep, fine, and valuable lessons before the Lord. Our experience tells us that this penetrating light will illuminate us to a point where we feel that there is no place in the universe for us to hide. Then, and only then, can we know what it means to have nothing to be proud of or to boast about. Only then do we appreciate the fact that our only place of refuge is His precious blood. Our intention, our motive, our purpose, the spirit within, the inner source, will all be made manifest by the light. When the light illuminates, there are a number of feelings and experiences which are simply indescribable with human words. Hence, brothers and sisters, prayer is not a matter of how many answers you have obtained or how much faith you have. Rather, it is a matter of how much you live in the illumination of life.
Many praise Brother Müller, who established orphanages and had 1,500,000 prayers answered in his lifetime. Many praise him as a man of faith. However, when I read Müller’s diaries, I was not as impressed by his faith as by the fact that he lived entirely in the illumination of God. My first impression was not that he had great faith, but that here was a man who whenever he went before God was scrutinized by God. As God scrutinized and illuminated him, he uttered some prayers under the shining light. Spontaneously, it was very easy for him to have faith and equally easy for his prayers to be answered by God.
In prayer, therefore, faith is not the most important matter. The first thing to learn is to be worked on by the illumination of life. You must allow it to expose you to the extent that nothing in your being remains hidden. Even you yourself have no place in which to hide. For in the light you have discovered that your whole being is a problem. There is no way for you to burn the incense before God because your inner condition is not right. At this point you know that your only place of refuge is the blood which was shed on the cross. It is here that, in a practical way, you experience the preciousness of the blood. And then by your experience you really know the meaning of the words in 1 John chapter one. You know what it means when it says that God is light, and what it means to have fellowship with God. You know what it means to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, the Son of God. This is the first aspect of the work of the life illumination in us.
Please remember that all those who are competent in prayer are those who prostrate themselves before God. This prostration is entirely due to the illumination. Before men you may be proud and unwilling to throw yourself to the ground, but you cannot help but prostrate yourself before God. Such prostrating is not merely being knocked down by God outwardly or being subdued by God’s environmental discipline, but it is the inner illumination that has prostrated you. Strictly speaking, God’s environmental discipline still cannot prostrate you. It is always the light’s illuminating that prostrates you. (Of course, some also need the help of the outward discipline.) Consequently, you discover that your only trust is in the blood, and thus you become one who is prostrated to the ground. Your entire being has no escape before God, and you can only hide yourself under the blood. Thus, you are able to pray.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)