TWO WAYS TO PRAY
Contacting the Lord to Breathe Him In
Likewise, there are two ways to pray. One way is to breathe in the Lord. In this kind of prayer we should care not for affairs or business but for breathing. We can pray in this way at the same time that we feed on the word. As we have said, to feed on the word requires much prayer, contacting the Lord by thanking, praising, and praying with what we understand from the word. This “hits two birds with one stone”; on the one hand, we feed on the word, and on the other hand, we breathe in the Lord. Every morning we should not pray for affairs, burdens, or needs; we simply leave those to the Lord. Rather, early in the morning we need to contact the Lord by breathing Him in. We read His word, understand something, and put it into prayer to digest what we read by prayer. This kind of digestion is both to feed on the word and to breathe in the Lord.
In our morning watch, it is better not to pray for affairs, business, or needs. We simply pray to breathe in the Lord, look unto Him, contact Him, praise Him, thank Him, and have a talk with Him. We should learn to forget about our needs and simply praise Him for His kindness, goodness, greatness, and for so many other aspects.
Telling the Lord of Our Needs and Burdens
We also need another kind of prayer. Before or after noon, in the evening, or even at night we need a time to bring all our burdens to the Lord. This is the time to pray for affairs, business, and needs, to discharge our burdens, to pray to tell the Lord whatever is on our heart or in our environment. If possible, we should do this daily. In whatever we do or need, we must speak with the Lord first; we have to tell the Lord. Sometimes we have to thank Him for His answers, and sometimes we have to remind Him of His promises. This is easy to teach, but it requires our entire lifetime to practice.
If we are a proper Christian, then even when we go to buy a pair of shoes, we have to tell the Lord. On the one hand, the Lord will take care of everything we need. On the other hand, though, in everything we need and do it is better to tell the Lord first. This will not only bring many answers from the Lord and many blessings, but it will also help us to grow.
We need to put all these things into practice. We should keep the rule of spending twenty to thirty minutes with the Lord every morning, forgetting about and not caring for our needs, but simply praising Him, thanking Him, contacting Him, and digesting the word by praying about what we understand from our reading, in order to fellowship with Him. Then later in the day we must find a time to tell the Lord. Some may say that here again is the problem of time. Again I say, if we will to do this, we can. While we are driving, we can say, “Lord, I need a pair of shoes.” Simply tell the Lord in this way. You may say, “Lord, next week I will go north to visit some people. Please prepare their hearts.” This is easy. The Lord is not a judge, so we do not have to go to court with prepared phrases, sentences, and terminology. There is no need to do this. We can talk with the Lord in any place, under any kind of circumstances, and with any kinds of terms, expressions, and utterances. We must learn to pray in this way. If possible, of course, it is good to find a time to be alone with the Lord, but often time does not allow us to do this; however, we can still pray.
BEING BALANCED IN ALL WAYS
We need the morning, and we also need the evening. In the morning we have to contact the Lord, and in the evening we also have to do something with the Lord. This is the balance. The proper Christian life is a life to contact the Lord in the morning and spend time with Him in the evening.
There is another need for balance. We need to pray privately, and we also need to pray publicly. If we can only pray privately but not publicly, we cannot grow adequately. Some brothers like to pray only publicly. They say that they cannot pray by themselves. This is to be lazy. They must also practice to pray privately. However, some, especially sisters, do not pray publicly. If their voices are never heard in the public meetings, they are a “cake not turned.” Some Chinese brothers and sisters make the excuse that they cannot express themselves in a foreign language. In this case, I would suggest that they pray in their own language. No one will be bothered. In Taiwan we sometimes had prayers in Japanese, Mandarin, and other dialects. In Taipei we can hear many dialects during the prayer. We need to utter something publicly.
We need all of the above balances: the balance in reading the word, the balance in prayer, the balance in our morning and evening, and the balance in public and private prayer. If we have the proper balance, we will grow. I am not giving you more doctrines. Rather, if you will take this word as an instruction and put it into practice, you will see wonderful progress within only one month. This will be a great help for our times together; it will prepare us very well and even change us. I would ask you to earnestly promise to do this. Try to read the word and pray, spend time in the morning and the evening, and have the proper Christian activity in private and in public in a balanced way.
MAKING A DECISION TO PRACTICE IN THIS WAY
I do not like to be legalistic, but it helps to make a decision. It would be good to make the decision to spend at least twenty to thirty minutes to contact the Lord by feeding on His word, to read three chapters plus one daily, to pray publicly once a week, and to give a testimony in the church once a month. This would be very helpful. Make a decision with the Lord to practice this way. Then we will see the growth, and we will drop the excuses. I am not criticizing or condemning, but I am sorry to say that week after week and month after month we can never hear certain ones’ voices in prayer or in testimony. Therefore, we need this kind of encouragement. Try to make these four decisions: every morning to feed on the word to contact the Lord, every day to read four chapters, every week to pray one public prayer, and every month to give a testimony in the meeting. Then you will see the change.
Sometimes in our trainings we have helped the young brothers and sisters to keep a record of how many times a day they are under the regulation of the inner law and to record how many times they have the inner anointing. In 1949 when we started the work in Taiwan, we printed forms related to these matters and gave them to the new converts to fill out. This practice truly helps people; otherwise, we are too loose. Still I do not like to be legalistic. I like to give people the freedom. However, I hope you will be a little strict with yourselves. Then you will receive the help and bring in the blessing.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)