What is the meaning of the apostle Paul’s words “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? This article will tell you the answer and how to pray without ceasing.
I Feel Released in Church Life
By Chaotuo, South Korea
Many Christians don’t understand why they have to attend meetings, nor do they pay attention to meetings. In fact, it’s very important for us Christians to attend meetings. The protagonist of this article once didn’t like attending meetings, but later she became fond of it. What made her have such a change? The following is about her experience.
After believing in God, I began to attend meetings in the church. At that time, I often got loads of stuff to do, such as making dumplings and buns for my children, taking care of my husband, and learning Korean; as I was getting old, these things often tired me and I only wanted to have a rest when I had spare time; besides, the meeting place was far from my home. Gradually, I didn’t want to attend meetings and even felt it a burden. At that time, I didn’t know the meaning of meetings, thinking: “Believing in God is pretty good. But why do I have to attend meetings? I only want to read God’s words at home on my own and attend meetings occasionally.” Every time the sisters called me asking me to attend meetings, I would find reasons and excuses to refuse them. On a baking hot day, a sister came to my home looking for me, but I was out. Then, she waited outside my apartment for me more than an hour. Seeing her patience and love for me, I felt very guilty.
As soon as she saw me, the sister fellowshiped with me, “I know you’re busy and have a lot of stuff to do. But since we have believed in God, we should spend some time practicing our. Faith in God is not merely acknowledging that there is a God. We need to read God’s words and gather and fellowship with brothers and sisters. Only in this way can we gain more work of the Holy Spirit, gradually understand the truths and know God. Then our lives will progress. When I first started believing in God, I was also reluctant to attend meetings, thinking that it was holding me up. Later, I read these words of God: ‘The Holy Spirit not only works in certain men who are used by God, but even more in the church. He could be working in anyone. He may work in you for the present, and when you have experienced it, He may work in someone else next. Make haste to follow; the more closely you follow the present light, the more your life can mature and grow. No matter what manner of man he may be, so long as the Holy Spirit works in him, make sure to follow. Take in his experiences through your own, and you will receive even higher things. In so doing you will progress more quickly. This is the path of perfection for man and a way through which life grows. The path to being made perfect is reached through your obedience to the work of the Holy Spirit. You do not know through what kind of person God will work to perfect you, nor through what person, occurrence, or thing He will enable you to enter into possession and to gain some insight. If you are able to walk onto this right track, it shows that there is great hope for you to be perfected by God. If you are unable to do so, it shows that your future is bleak and devoid of light.’ ‘Though I may have finished speaking My word, people still don’t completely understand, and this is because they are lacking in quality. This problem can be resolved through the church life and through fellowshiping with each other.’ From God’s words, I knew that if we want to gain the work of the Holy Spirit and make progress in life, we should live the church life and fellowship God’s words with brothers and sisters more. When living the church life, we are no longer bothered by family issues, and we thus can quiet our hearts to ponder God’s words and obtain more work of the Holy Spirit. Our abilities to receive God’s words are poor, so if we don’t attend meetings but just read God’s words at home on our own, we can only understand the literal meaning of God’s words. When it comes to the inner meaning of God’s words, such as what kind of state God’s words refer to, what God’s will is in His words, our understanding about these things will be very limited; sometimes, we could even misinterpret and distort God’s words according to our imagination and form notions about God’s words. However, in meetings, there are many brothers and sisters gathering together and fellowshiping God’s words; through communicating the light we obtain in God’s words and sharing our experiences and knowledge, we can receive a lot of the supply of life and use the strengths of others to make up for our weaknesses; then we will achieve faster growth in life, and our problems and difficulties can also be resolved through such process.”
After listening to God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I realized how many benefits meetings could bring to us. I also understood that living the church life was a way of worshiping God and also a path by which I kept a normal relationship with God. As a believer in God, if I don’t pray, read God’s words, or attend meetings, I’m not considered a believer in God. At that moment, I felt ashamed of my past behavior and I became determined to attend meetings regularly in future.
However, my resolution to do this didn’t last long. Because my own affairs often clashed with the meetings, every time such a thing happened, I wanted to handle my personal affair and didn’t want to miss the meeting, so, gradually, I was not that active in attending meetings and even felt it was a burden to me. It was not until an incident happened that I truly understood that as a Christian, I couldn’t live without a normal church life and then began to pay attention to it.
One day, before the Spring Festival, I had a video chat with my daughter-in-law. When I learned that my grandson didn’t perform well in the exam, I asked, “How could this happen?” Hearing my words, my daughter-in-law felt I was blaming her, and then she sent a message to my son to pour out her grievance against me. Then, my son complained to my daughter. Seeing my son stood on his wife’s side blaming me, my daughter reasoned with him. Later, he came to quarrel with me in a rage, “Mom, my sister blamed me for your illness. Was it really because of me? Have you ever cared about my wife and me?” Hearing my son, I felt very uncomfortable, thinking: “I’m your mother. How could you talk to me like that? You’re too conscienceless.” I couldn’t hold back my anger and argued with him. In the end, we parted on bad terms.
After my son left, I was filled with grievance and anger while thinking of what had just happened. I didn’t know how to resolve this problem. When I was in agony, I remembered the sister’s words, “When encountering things, we shouldand seek God.” But after the prayer, I still felt stuck and angry. The next morning, I sat on the couch, thinking: “Ever since my son came to Korea to work, I’ve tried my best to take care of him. In order to help him buy a house in our hometown, I worked hard to make money. Why is he ungrateful to what I’ve done for him? Just because of a trivial thing, he argues with me. Does he have any regard for me?” The more I thought about it, the more miserable I felt. At that time, I got a call from the sister who invited me to attend meeting. In anguish and helplessness, I thought: “Perhaps my brothers and sisters could help me resolve my difficulties.”
Then, I came to the church to attend meeting. Seeing that I looked awful, a sister asked me with concern, “Sister, is everything OK? You don’t look well.” I poured out my problems to her. Then she read a passage of God’s words to me: “When parents talk down to their child and say, ‘I’m your father (or mother)! You must do as I say!’ the child takes exception to this ‘must’; it’s definitely not an expression of normal humanity. Conversely, if the child’s attitude to their parents is, ‘Ugh, you do nothing but nag me, I hate listening to you! I’m an adult but you’re still trying to control me!’ what is this attitude? Some other children even think, ‘I’m your child, you should do everything for me—you should pay for me, make me food, and look after me when I’m ill.’ What attitude is this? Is this normal humanity? It isn’t right to think that your parents should do everything for you. When they see this, they think to themselves, ‘When I do anything for you, you feel it’s owed to you, that it’s your due. You’re so thoughtless!’ So they feel sad. No matter how much the parents suffer, no matter how much concern they show for their child, the child senses none of it. He thinks that’s what parents should do, that his parents can’t feel upset, pain, hurt or sadness. This is wrong, it is not normal humanity. If both sides lived by normal humanity, and if they were able to reach possession of the truth, with both sides putting themselves in each other’s shoes, and taking into account each other’s difficulties, from the perspective of normal humanity, and both sides standing on an equal footing when they interacted, spoke to each other, and did things, would this stop the estrangement developing between them?”
Finishing reading God’s words, the sister fellowshiped, “After being corrupted by Satan, we all live by satanic disposition, becoming arrogant and self-right as well as selfish and contemptible; there is no patience, tolerance, or understanding between people anymore. For example, when we interact with our children, we always stand in a high position, and sometimes blame them without knowing the actual situation, giving them pressure and constraint; all this is caused by our arrogant disposition. As for the children, they are so selfish that they take our sacrifice for granted, thinking it’s our duty to do everything for them, and they never care about or understand us. As a result, we often have disagreements and quarrels when associating with each other. This is actually caused by our corrupt disposition. Therefore, we should practice God’s words, learn to let go of ourselves, understand and care for others more, and have more tolerance, patience, and love for them. Only when we act in this way can we get along with each other.”
Through God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I gained some knowledge of myself. That night, I came before God and prayed to Him, “Oh God! I have been so deeply corrupted by Satan that I have no understanding for my children. I’m willing to put aside myself and practice Your words.” After prayer, I thought: “It’s not easy for my daughter-in-law to take care of the child by herself in China. As I seldom cared for her or understood her, it was to be expected that she has complaints about me.” The more I thought, the more relieved I felt, and my anger toward my son and my daughter-in-law disappeared. Later, when I let go of myself to get along with them, I no longer felt miserable or distressed.
Through this experience, I appreciated that the church life was very important for us. If I hadn’t fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters, I would still be controlled by the corrupt disposition and live in complaints; living like this over time would definitely make myself ill. In the past, when I encountered difficulties and was in bad mood, I did nothing but thought wild thoughts, living in depression and pain. After I came to believe in God, whenever I met difficulties, my brothers and sisters would read to me God’s words regarding my situation in meetings, and sometimes share their experiences with me, through which I gained some knowledge of God and my corrupt disposition and also gained some ways of practice. So, I felt very relieved and relaxed. Just as God’s words say: “You are able to eat and drink God’s words as normal, pray as normal, carry on your church life as normal, regardless of the trials that you may face, the circumstances that you may encounter, the sickness of the flesh that you may endure, the estrangement of brothers and sisters, or difficulties in your family—if you can reach this point, then it shows that you are on the right track.”
Thank God! Through this experience, I understood the meaning and importance of attending meetings: The purpose of attending meetings is to understand the truths; in meetings, we lay bare our difficulties to seek the truths, and then fellowship God’s words with our brothers and sisters regarding these actual situations to find the correct ways of practice; such a progress is the best way for us to gain the truth and obtain growth in life. After understanding this, I prayed to God in my heart and made a determination: I will be active in attending meetings and no longer miss any of them for personal matters.
After that, whenever my own affairs clashed with the meetings, I would put the meetings first and my affairs second. I no longer considered the meeting as a burden; instead, I understood that as a believer in God, I should attend meetings regularly. Gradually, I knew more and more truths through having meetings, and felt happy and peaceful in my heart.
Later, God’s test came upon me …
One day, my son, whose Korean wasn’t very good, asked me to help him buy a SIM card the next day. But remembering that I had to attend the meeting that afternoon, I was caught in a dilemma. Neither did I want to miss the meeting nor refuse my son. When I was perplexed, I poured out my difficulty to a sister, hoping to get her understanding of my absence from the meeting. Unexpectedly, after hearing my difficulty, she fellowshiped with me, “God is the Lord of creation. No matter what we encounter, we should honor God as great and learn to rely on and look to Him. Whatever things we are faced with, we shouldn’t reach a verdict hastily or make our own choice. Instead, we should seek how to accord with God’s will and satisfy Him. Only in this way can we see God’s deeds. Today, faced with this matter, you should entrust it to God, because all things and matters are in His hands. As thesays, ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of Jehovah, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he will’ (Proverbs 21:1). Besides, we should stand witness for God in everything we encounter. Just like when Abraham offered up Isaac, God saw Abraham’s true heart, and then He made a way out for Abraham and prepared a sacrifice for him. Though what we are encountering is just a small thing, we should still accept God’s tests and have faith to stand witness for God. Let’s pray to God, telling Him our difficulties and thoughts and beg Him to lead us. As long as we have faith in God, we’ll see His deeds.” After listening to her fellowship, I found the way to practice.
After returning home I prayed to God, “O God! My son asked me to accompany him to buy a SIM card, but I want to attend the meeting. Faced with this dilemma, I don’t know what to do. O God! I’m willing to entrust all of this to You and satisfy You first. May You lead me and give me a way out.” After prayer, I still couldn’t completely put this matter aside. And I thought to myself, “I might as well urge my son to set out earlier; if he doesn’t agree, then I will attend the meeting first and then handle his affair. Satisfying God is my first priority.” When I thought like this, my daughter suddenly called me, saying, “Mom, I will buy the SIM card for my brother. I can drive there. It won’t take long. Don’t worry.” After hanging up the phone, I was so happy that I almost jumped up, and I kept thanking God in my heart. Since I had the quarrel with my son, my daughter hadn’t spoken to him for a long time. It was amazing that she could offer to help him. At that time not only had their relationship gotten better, but I could attend the meeting. Through this experience, I saw that as long as I was willing to rely on God and satisfy God, He would open up a way for me. As God’s words say, “God does not ask much of man. All that God asks of man is meant to be achieved easily and happily; it is just that man is unwilling to suffer hardships.”
In the past, I was always afraid that it would impede my handling personal affairs to attend meetings. But now, I have experienced that I can understand more truths through gatherings without interfering with my normal life. Before, because I had no truth, I couldn’t see through anything. So, in face of difficulties, I would only complain and live in pain. But now, when encountering things, I would rely on God consciously and ask Him to lead me, after which I would often find a way to resolve my difficulties and feel much more released and free. And through reading and fellowshiping God’s words in meetings, I have gained some understanding of God’s will for the salvation of man, God’s way of working, and my own corruptions. Thank God! I’ve really benefited a lot through leading a church life.
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