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What Is True Prayer?
By Wuruo, United States
Prayer is the bridge for us to have a spiritual communication with God. God is the Spirit; only when we use our heart and honesty to worship Him, can we enter into a genuine connection and establish a proper relationship with Him.
After accepting God’s new work, I often had meetings and fellowshiped God’s words with my sisters, through which I gradually gained some knowledge about God’s work. Every time gathering with my sisters, I found their fellowships about God’s words were clear and their prayers fluent and genuine. Envious of them, I really hoped that I could pray like them. But there were many spiritual words which I was not familiar with in their prayers, and I couldn’t imitate it no matter how hard I tried.
Gradually, I became intimidated when attending meetings, fearing that my sisters would ask me to make a prayer, and had less desire for the truth. Every time seeing my sisters pray confidently, I became so nervous that when I prayed I went blank with ears burning and face flushing red, and could only finish the prayer in a hurry. I thought: Luckily, we had the meeting online so that the sisters didn’t see my embarrassment. But considering my poor performance, I bet they would look down on me and laugh at me.
During that time, I was afraid to make a prayer in meetings, worrying that I would be laughed at by my sisters if I couldn’t pray well, so much so that I kept pondering how to pray well when working in the daytime. However, I often forgot what I had prepared when I prayed in the meeting. So, every time before the meeting, I would write a draft lest I forget the prayer.
Once before a meeting, I racked my brain to draft a prayer and checked it over and over again until I was satisfied with it. Feeling myself well-prepared, I couldn’t wait to impress my sisters with my prayer. When we had the meeting in the evening, the sister shared a passage of Preaching and Fellowship About Life Entry, “He (the Lord Jesus) has come incarnate as the Son of Man and begun to express the truth and do His work of judgment in the last days, so you accept. This means you have been raptured, you have been raptured up before God, you have been lifted up into the air to meet with the Lord. … This is why I congratulate you. This is the meaning of my congratulations. Do you understand?” Concerned about what I would say in my prayer, I didn’t pay attention to this passage of fellowship. When it was my turn, I prayed as I had prepared. At the end of the prayer, I said, “I hope that we will be raptured up before God as soon as possible and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb together.”
After prayer, I felt happy and thought: This time, my sisters will definitely approve of my prayer. When I was getting pleased with myself, a sister said to me, “Sister, we have accepted the work of Almighty God in the last days, so we have been raptured before the throne of God.” Her words made me awaken suddenly. It’s right. Didn’t I read the fellowship regarding this subject just now? How could I still say “I hope that we will be raptured up before God as soon as possible”? How will my sisters think of me? At that time, I felt so ashamed to see anyone and couldn’t wait to find a place to hide away.
Since then, I no longer relied on my own way to resolve my difficulty in prayer, because human means were useless and would only make things worse. Then I set aside my pride and sent the sister a message, in which I poured out my confusion to her. Soon I received her reply, “In fact, our purposes of praying are wrong. We always care about how others would think of us and live before others, so we don’t pay attention to communing with God and speaking words in heart to God when praying but just speak deep doctrines or copy others to make others think highly of us. We should learn to set aside our pride, practice living before God, and have a true communion with God. In this way, we will live freely and unrestrainedly.”
Reading the sister’s message, I felt that her words pointed out my state: When hearing my sisters pray so confidently, I was really envious of them and hoped to pray as well as them. Then I began to copy their prayers, falling into the state of competing with them. As a result, I couldn’t open myself to commune truly with God in a released way. Now I understand that it is all because of my vanity. Then what should I do to break free from the bounds of vanity? At that time, the sister sent me a passage of God’s words: “Whenever you do anything, you must examine whether your motivations are right. If you are able to act according to the requirements of God, then your relationship with God is normal. This is the minimum criterion. If, when you examine your motivations, there emerge those that are incorrect, and if you are able to turn your back on them and act according to the words of God, then you will become someone who is right before God, which will show that your relationship with God is normal, and that all that you do is for the sake of God, and not for yourself. Whenever you do or say anything, you must put your heart right, be righteous, and not be led by your emotions, or act according to your own will. These are the principles by which believers in God conduct themselves.”
Seeing the revelation of God’s words, I felt even more ashamed. Thinking of my thoughts and considerations, I found that I only cared what others thought of me and lived before men, but never focused on God’s requirements or practicing His words. God is righteous and holy, and looks into my thoughts and ideas. He arranged this situation to make me recognize my wrong intention so that I could change it. Aside from shame, I also appreciated God’s kind intention: He wants me to set aside my pride, pray according to His requirements, and accept His observation. All He did was to cleanse my corruption.
Having realized that there was something impure which God didn’t love in my prayer, I resolved to change my wrong motive in praying. The sister continued to fellowship with me: “God arranges surroundings to change us and purify us. We should practice living before God and truly praying to Him. Only in this way can we establish a normal relationship with Him.” Since then, I began to practice praying to God every morning and evening, telling Him the things happening in my life. Thanks to God’s guidance, when I didn’t care about how others thought of me, I no longer felt nervous but released in my heart when praying.
After a period of time, my prayer, however, became a ceremony rather than a true communication with God, because I just went through formalities, like making a call to seniors only for exchanging the usual pleasantries at New Year and on festival days. Compared with my sister’s prayer which had the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, my prayers were dry and banal. Then, I thought of the five types of substandard ways of praying: The first type is praying with insincerity, the second is praying during religious ceremonies, the third is deceitful prayer, the fourth is trying to reason with God or negotiate through prayer, and the last is a doubtful or testing prayer. Reflecting on myself, I found that I looked at prayer as a ceremony, praying at a specific time every day; though repenting verbally, I didn’t have any transformation within; when praying, I didn’t say the words in my heart to God but repeated the same words or said nice-sounding words to deceive God. Wasn’t I just fooling God? At these thoughts, I was ashamed and felt myself to be so hypocritical. Then I came before God and prayed to Him, “Oh, God! Now I realize that my prayer is a religious ceremony which neither meets Your requirements nor conforms to Your will. I am willing to change the way I practice praying. May You lead me to understand what true prayer is.”
Later, I found the right way to practice praying in God’s words. God word says: “Whilst praying, your heart must be at peace before God, and it must be sincere. You are truly communing and praying with God; you must not deceive God using nice-sounding words. Prayer is centered around that which God wishes to complete today. Ask God to bring you greater enlightenment and illumination, and bring your actual state and troubles before God to pray, and make resolution before God. Prayer is not the following of procedure, but the seeking of God using your true heart. Ask that God protect your heart, making it able to often be at peace before God, making you able to know yourself, and despise yourself, and forsake yourself in the environment that God has set for you, thus allowing you to have a normal relationship with God and making you someone who truly loves God.” Reading God’s words, I was moved. God taught me how to pray just like a mother taught her child to talk. In fact, He doesn’t ask us to praise Him with nice-sounding words or give long-winded speeches. He doesn’t accept the prayer with insincerity. Then I was reminded of Luke 18:13, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Though the publican only prayed to God with one sentence, his prayer was accepted by God. Actually, it matters not how nice-sounding are the words of our prayers—what is key is whether or not we speak honestly. As long as we speak the words in heart, God will accept our prayer.
I also understood that to enter into true prayer, we must first be quiet before God, speaking from the heart instead of deceiving Him with words of praise or cheating Him with falsehoods or empty word; besides, we should pray about actual things and difficulties in our life, not to go through the process but to come before God sincerely to seek the truth and the way of practice, through which we can gain the work of Holy Spirit and have deeper knowledge of our own corrupt disposition and better understanding of God’s will to save man.
After understanding these things, I prayed to God, “Oh, God! Thanks for Your enlightenment and illumination. Now I understand that prayer is the bridge for us to communicate with You. If our intentions are wrong, we can’t have a true communication with You. I am willing to pray according to Your requirements in the future and establish a normal relationship with You.”
Since then, I began to pray according to God’s word, paying attention to speaking words in my heart to God, bringing my actual difficulties before Him, and asking Him to help me act according to His will. After some time, I had more words to say to God when praying rather than just repeating the same old things. And I found when I sincerely entrusted my difficulty to Him in prayer, He would fulfill my prayers. Thank God! Now I finally know how to pray truly to God.
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