By Xiao Zheng
It is known to each of us who believes in God that prayer is vital for understanding the truth and practicing God’s requirements of us. Whatever tribulations we face, whatever difficulties we encounter in life, or whenever we desire to gain enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit in reading, we can never depart from prayer. Actually, every believer in God is eager to achieve results in praying to God, eager to receive God’s blessings, gain enlightenment and guidance from the Holy Spirit, and thereby live before God. However, now many brothers and sisters find that they often but receive no enlightenment, which causes them to be passive and weak in spirit. Thus, a lot of people are confused about the following questions: Isn’t prayer just speaking to God? Why can’t I receive enlightenment from God and achieve results though I pray often? Could it be that there is a secret to prayer? In the past, I was also puzzled by the same questions. Later, after reading some words in a spiritual book, I found there really was a secret to praying.
It is said in the book, “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…. If man gives his true heart to God and says what is really within his heart to God, then God is willing to work in man; God does not want the twisted heart of man, but his pure and honest heart. If man does not truly speak his heart to God, then God does not touch man’s heart, or work within him. Thus, the most crucial thing about praying is to speak the words of your true heart to God, telling God of your flaws or rebellious disposition and completely opening yourself up to God. Only then will God be interested in your prayers; if not, then God will hide His face from you” (“Concerning the Practice of Prayer”).
From these words, I saw God’s faithfulness and righteousness, and also His holy substance. Only if we pray to God with honest hearts will He hear us. It’s just like the communication between people. If we cannot open our heart and never speak our innermost thoughts to each other, then no matter how many years we have known each other, we will not possibly be close friends, much less have confidence in each other. In this way, we will not get sincere help from each other. Similarly, regardless of how many years we have believed in God or how many times we have prayed every day, if we don’t truly pray to God, then our prayers are hypocritical and we cannot possibly obtain God’s enlightenment and guidance. In that case, we won’t be acknowledged by God. For example, many times we use good words to deceive God in our prayers and want to please God but do not practice at all afterward. It is just like the earliest Pharisees who prayed on the corners of the streets and in front of crowds, trying every way possible to make others see how pious and faithful they were. But what was the result? When thecame to do His work, they refused to seek and investigate it, and even blasphemed, condemned, and resisted Him. It can be seen that their prayers were hypocritical. And the Lord not only detested such prayers, but also condemned them, saying woes to them.
What then is true prayer? I went on to read the words in the spiritual book, “Prayer is not a case of going through the formalities, or following procedure, or reciting the words of God, which is to say, prayer does not mean parroting words and copying others. In prayer, you must give your heart to God, sharing the words in your heart with God so that you may be touched by God. If your prayers are to be effective, then they must be based on your reading of God’s words. Only by praying amid God’s words will you be able to receive more enlightenment and illumination. A true prayer is shown by having a heart that yearns for the requirements made by God, and being willing to fulfill these requirements; you will be able to hate all that God hates, upon the basis of which you will have knowledge, and will know and be clear about the truths explained by God. Having the resolution, and faith, and knowledge, and a path by which to practice after praying—only this is truly praying, and only prayer such as this can be effective.” “What does it mean to truly pray? It means speaking the words within your heart to God, and communing with God having grasped His will and based upon His words; it means feeling particularly close to God, feeling that He is in front of you, and that you have something to say to Him; and it means being especially radiant within your heart, and feeling that God is especially lovely. You will feel especially inspired, and after hearing your words your brothers and sisters will feel gratified, they will feel that the words you speak are the words within their hearts, the words they wish to say, and that what you say represents what they want to say. This is what it means to truly pray. After you have truly prayed, in your heart you will feel at peace, and gratified; the strength to love God will rise up, and you will feel that nothing in your entire life is more worthy or significant than loving God—and all this will prove that your prayers have been effective” (“Concerning the Practice of Prayer”).
These words tell us what real prayer is and the effects achieved by it. We can see that prayer does not mean coming before God to say nice words or copying others. To make our prayer effective is no simple matter, and the most crucial thing is that we must truly pray. It needs us to first give our hearts to God, for only if we pray to God with our hearts will our spirits be moved. Besides, it is necessary for us to pray based on God’s words, for only by praying amid God’s words will we be able to get more enlightenment and illumination. And if we get resolution, faith, knowledge, and the path to practice after we pray in this way, then our prayers have been effective. In addition, true prayer means speaking the words within our hearts to God, means feeling very close to God, seeking God’s current will in His words, and not following the rules and religious practices of the past. And praying in this way can touch people’s hearts the most. All those that achieve the above effects are true prayers, and are also accepted by God. According to this, which of the prayers we have made are true? For instance, when we pray to God, committing our actual difficulties at home to Him and resolving to obey His orchestrations and arrangements no matter what He does; when we entrust the lacks and difficulties of our brothers and sisters to God through prayers, and ask Him to lead them to find the path toward a solution in His words; when we pray to God about the difficulties we have encountered in our gospel work, and about how to bring people before God; when we pray to get an understanding of the true meaning of God’s words and to seek how to practice His words accurately; when we pray to gain the enlightenment of God and to understand His will so that we can stand testimony for Him when we suffer persecution and tribulation. All of these above are the true prayers compatible with God’s heart, and are what God would like to listen to and what He delights in.
Now that we have known the secret to prayer, what we need to do next is to come before God and pray with an honest heart, give our hearts to God, speak the words within our hearts to Him, and grasp God’s will in His words. The more we practice praying like this, the truer our prayers will be. Only when we truly pray, will our prayer be effective and will ourbecome ever closer. Also, only true prayer can enable us to feel peace and enjoyment in our spirits. Let’s practice truly praying to God together in our real life after mastering the secret to prayer.
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