II. THIS LIFE IS HOLY, SEPARATED
This prayer life within us, because it is the life of God, is separated from everything that is unbecoming to God. This life, therefore, requires you to be separated from the world, and demands that you put aside anything that is outside God. If you want to be a man of prayer who can pray, is willing to pray, and who prays properly, you must agree with the demand of the life in you by putting aside whatever it wants you to put aside. Whenever you disagree even slightly with its demand for holiness, you put to death the life of prayer. It is as if you have seized it by the throat. Never think to yourself, “Oh, it is just a little worldliness; it is not a great sin.” It is not a matter of great or small, but whether or not this life makes a demand in you. If it demands of you to forsake something that is outside God, then you should do it.
Brothers and sisters, I believe that you have had this kind of experience. Sometimes this holy life within you demands that you not wear a certain dress. When it makes such a demand, you may reason and say, “This is not sinful, and it does not matter if I wear it.” You may reason, but the life of prayer would not listen to you. Once the life of prayer within you makes a demand for holiness, it never listens to any argument. If you do not agree, you cannot pray afterwards.
Why is it that today, when the brothers and sisters come together, they often cannot open their mouths? It is because we all have some problems in agreeing with the demands of holiness within us. Many times the brothers and sisters, even though you encourage them, cannot open their mouths in the meeting. This is because they have rejected the demands of holiness in them. Demands of holiness do not come from doctrines but wholly from the life of prayer within.
Therefore, if we want to learn the lesson of prayer, we must pay heed to whatever the life of prayer within demands of us. I repeat, what this life within demands of us is holiness. It requires that we be separated from all people, activities, and things that are outside God. One thing is certain: the more you pray to God by this life, the more stringent the demands of this life within you become. If you always live in this life of prayer, you do not need much outward teaching on the part of men. The more you pray, the more this life in you is being exercised, and the more its function of separating becomes manifest.
No one can be holier than one who continually prays before God. The most holy person is one who constantly prays before God. When he prays, the life in him becomes exercised and spontaneously brings forth the sanctifying function. It demands that he separate himself from this activity and that activity, and when he prays again, it further requires him to put aside this thing and that thing. As he prays still more, it further demands of him to leave this person and that person. The more he yields to the sanctifying demands, the more living the life of prayer in him becomes, and spontaneously he has a greater appetite for prayer. Furthermore, the more his ability to pray increases, the more his praises, thanksgivings, supplications, expressions, and even his utterance are special. Now his technique of prayer greatly excels what it was before. All these conditions prove that he has been continually yielding to the demands of holiness which were made by the life of prayer within him.
For example, many like to go to the movies. This is like a bug which pesters God’s children. It is very hard to get rid of, because, unconsciously, it comes back again and again. Brothers and sisters who go to the movies would have to admit that they cannot pray while watching the movies or after they come home from the movies. They cannot pray because they have not yielded themselves to the demand of holiness. While they were yet intending, desiring, and planning to go to the movie, the life of prayer within them had already demanded that they not go. Nevertheless, they still hardened their hearts saying, “We don’t care; we are going to see the movie even if it causes us to be in darkness. After this movie, we will get in fellowship with the Lord again.” Thus, while walking toward the theater, inwardly something was bothering them. After they came home from the movie they could not pray for a long while. Why is this so? The sole reason is that they had rejected the demands of holiness within and thus hurt the life of prayer.
On the contrary, let us consider someone else who, after being saved, also desired to see a movie. However, while he was going on his way to the movie, he felt rather uneasy and immediately was willing to care for this uneasy feeling. Agreeing with this demand of sanctification, he would say to the Lord, “Lord, I am not going anymore, and I abandon this matter by trusting You.” Immediately, in him there would be the desire to pray. He could pray for the church, his relatives, and friends. He would have the burden of prayer in him instantly.
Therefore, we must clearly see that the life of God in every man of prayer is holy and separated. It rejects anything that does not correspond with the divine nature. This life requires that he be fitted wholly with the nature of God. It neither argues nor listens to arguments. If one does not take care of the requirement of the life of prayer within him, he puts it to death and cannot pray. On the contrary, the moment he agrees with its demands, the life of prayer is immediately quickened.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)